Introduction to Journalism

Click here to download document.



  • Define the elements of Journalism

  • Define the role of bias and objectivity in Journalism

  • Define the role of Verification and accuracy in Journalism

  • Describe what elements make a good story


“The purpose of journalism, is not defined by technology, nor by journalists or the techniques they employ.” Rather, “the principles and purpose of journalism are defined by something more basic: the function news plays in the lives of people.” - Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel

Expected Lesson Duration:

Lesson is expected to last 2 days.

Interdisciplinary Connection(s) to Common Core

Preparing to Teach this Lesson:

There are no resources necessary for this lesson.

Student Handouts:

There are no handouts for this lesson as it is project based.

Lesson Procedure:

Introduction/Gain Attention

  • Icebreaker: The class will begin with an icebreaker activity that will stir conversations and or questions (ex: Two lies and a truth).

    • A lot of what follows as far as the informative partition comes from the American Press Institute. I find the information to be really well documented and informed.


  • Discussion guide:

    • What is journalism? Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities.

    • What makes it important? That value flows from its purpose, to provide people with verified information they can use to make better decisions, and its practices, the most important of which is a systematic process – a discipline of verification – that journalists use to find not just the facts, but also the “truth about the facts.”

    • What does the author mean when they state, “truth about the facts”? A wonderful discussion can be held using this and examples about it. Ex. Fact: Louisiana has the highest prison population in the world per capita (about 1120 people) so what are the facts behind this fact?

    • Also, it is a great time to talk about correlation and causation: Ex. Fact: ice cream sales and drownings rise at the same time. (pause) Yes Ice cream sales and drownings rise at the same time but you cannot correlate the sales of ice cream to drownings they are both due to the seasonal change.

  • Example:

    • What role does bias and objectivity play in journalism? - There is no form of journalism that exist today that is free of bias, period. People find stories, people write stories, people are biased. Thus, the job of journalists is not to stamp out bias. Rather, the journalist should learn how to manage it.
  • To do so, the journalist needs to become conscious of the biases at play in a given story and decide when they are appropriate and may be useful, and when they are inappropriate.

  • Biases that journalists and their audiences probably consider appropriate are such things as:

    • a belief in representative government

    • open government

      • social equality
  • Yet an unquestioning adherence to policies based on these principles might not always be the best thing:

    • Is democracy, for example, the best form of government for all people in all places at all times?

    • Should government not be allowed to have any secrets?

    • How far should government go to promote social equality?

  • There are also biases that cut both ways:

    • Being a crusader against social ills is generally good, but you can lose perspective.

    • A bias toward official voices is necessary, but if it leaves out other voices it’s a problem.

    • Being sensitive to sources is part of listening well but it can also mean that the journalist is writing for them rather than the public.

    • Looking for the extraordinary, the man-bites-dog story, can also lead a journalist to distort what is really going on or is important.

    • Subject: There is a bias built into the way journalists pick and cover stories. Certain subjects are routinely covered or ignored. Do some subjects or communities only appear when a crime occurs or when there is a special event or parade?

    • Boss: What stories are being done or overdone in order to please the boss?

    • Production: What stories are automatic because they are easy to do, but may be trivial or incremental? Or how often does a journalist call certain sources because they know the source will answer their phone or offer a perfect quote?

    • Against companies: Turning skepticism into negativity and the assumption that every big and successful institution must be doing something wrong.

  • In recent years the public seems to have adopted a more nuanced view of bias. Perhaps this is because many critics have found their voice online – where studies confirm that half the blogs contain just the author’s opinion – or that one-sidedness has become a successful business model, as Fox News Channel and MSNBC have demonstrated.

  • In the end, making choices requires journalists to think. A journalist needs to be conscious of biases so he or she can know what biases make it into stories.

  • Define the role of Verification and accuracy in Journalism - without verification and accuracy it is not journalism. It is an opinion. It is the duty of the organization to provide accountable information and it is the responsibility of the consumer to demand accountability.

  • This next set is great for note taking and defining

  • Journalism is storytelling with a purpose. The elements that create a good story help keep journalism connected to the community:

    • Good stories:

      • are important and interesting

      • prove their relevance to the audience

      • have strong central characters

      • use detail

      • connect to deeper themes

      • explore tensions

      • capture emotions

      • provide context

      • surprise the reader

      • empower the reader

  • The project will be producing a journalistic article about a topic or subject (The instructor can choose to narrow or assign the topics or subjects if they choose).

  • Armed with the knowledge from the discussion the students will write a one page article about _______________ (insert school, topic, something that is obtainable the students need to be able to interview someone about it) Ex. student wants to write about gaming interview someone that is affiliated or plays games ask real questions such as, does video gaming affect your sleep? Could you be doing something more useful with your time? Use the good story guideline (from students notes) and the black box guide (attached) to guide the questioning and story development process.


  • Define and explain the elements of journalism

  • Define the roles and importance of bias and objectivity in journalism

  • Define the roles and importance of verification and accuracy in journalism

  • Describe elements present in a good story

  • Explain aspects comprising the organization of a story

Content of Lesson

  • Acquiring Key Concepts: discussion of character roles, types, and development and how to identify these terms in media in any given medium.

  • Engaging in Experiential Learning: identifying the concepts discussed in examples of tv shows and videos.

  • Building Proficiencies: using skills from previous discussion and activity to work with a group in developing a unique storyline from a random image.

  • Connecting with STEM Professionals: view a video interview with a director or writer in which they discuss the concepts focused on in class.

  • Assessing Learning: have groups explain the methods they used to complete the storyline for their given image. Also allow groups to compare their storyline and steps taken to those of other groups in class. Ask if students are able to identify the concepts of character roles and development in the stories their classmates created.

Closure and Review

  • Reiterate the importance of storytelling in media, describe the amount of written work that is consumed by media outlets and the amount of recycled material that continues to be recirculated due to the lack of new material.

  • Explain the importance of diversity in the storytellers and writers due to experiences and how it shapes our stories.

Higher Level Thinking Skills Noted

  • Developing a dynamic story

  • Adapting stories due to character developments

  • Perception due to appearance


The art and skill of storytelling that will be practiced in this class will help the students reasoning skills, cognitive constructive capabilities, and develop character. The creation of a narrative requires the student to develop a logical order from a sequence of events. In order for the student to develop a meaningful arrangement of events the student must begin to grow their narrative reasoning skills. These skills can evolve through the consumption and dissection of narrative literature, of a mixed medium. While developing of their narrative reasoning skills the students should/ will become more empathetic to others, wise to deciphering the true purpose of the story, and become comprehensive thinkers of their own circumstances. The students are finally at the age in which they are beginning to construct their own narratives. We, as educators, want them to be exposed to a great diversity of narratives in order mature those narrative reasoning skills. The more developed their narrative reasoning skills are the more they get from a story (deeper perspective). The more advanced their skills, the more likely they are to rationalize why this character chose a particular path, place themselves in the characters shoes, and develop their own character.

Explorations and Extensions:

Does the dynamic aspect of storytelling take anything away from the message that the author may be trying to deliver?

Assessment Criteria for Success:

Content knowledge, student knowledge, and appropriate resources are aligned to instructional outcomes. student learning will be assessed throughout the lesson via question responses and correlation to the project.

Students will have successfully met the outcomes when fundamental questions about the importance of storytelling and its role in imagery can be observed through their writing and reflections of their peers work. Also questions about their current disposition are taken into consideration when they see media should begin to arise. Also a fluid and respectful use of time, along with an essay that is fluid, easy to follow, and retains its essentials as an ELA.

Implementation Feedback:

Students will receive feedback from their peers and instructor while they are sharing their story with their classmates. Students can then share what they felt about the project with their instructor; as well as what they gained from it, how it could have better benefited them, etc.


To be completed upon the end of lesson.

Other Important Course Development Information

Best Practices:

Exemplary Previous student work: