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Working on the Slant

Subjects

• Arts & Humanities
Language Arts
• Mathematics
Arithmetic, Statistics
• Social Studies
Current Events, Geography, History

• 3-5
• 6-8
• 9-12

Brief Description

Students obtain newspapers from around the country for a specific date and compare how those newspapers handle the major news stories on that date. (Graphic organizer work sheet included.)

Objectives

Students will
• use a graphic organizer to compare how different newspapers cover the news stories on a given day,

Keywords

newspaper, business letter, current events, Venn diagram, compare, contrast, point of view, editorial, classified, consumer, cost of living, letter writing

Materials Needed

• daily newspapers from around the country for a specific date (See instructions below for obtaining those newspapers)
• Comparing Newspapers work sheet

Lesson Plan

Complete this activity in two parts. First, help your students determine the date for which they would like to collect newspapers from around the country. That date might coincide with a recent national or international event -- for example, the president's State of the Union address, a violent earthquake, a meeting of world leaders, or a decisive battle in a war. (Remind students to order the paper for the date following the actual event if that's when the event would be reported.) Have each student write a simple business letter to the circulation manager of a different newspaper requesting a copy of that newspaper for the specified date. The following Web sites provide resources for locating newspaper addresses. These resources are intended for teacher use only. Be sure to send a few extra letters in addition to the letters written by the students, so extra newspapers will be available for students who do not receive responses to their letters.

Complete the second part of the lesson when all the newspapers have arrived. Students can work in pairs, in small groups, or as a class.

Begin by having students study the front page of the paper. Ask: How much of the front page relates to the main news story? Are photos included? Is the article from a wire service or was it written by a local reporter? Does the article include unique local or national quote sources? What other news stories appear on the front page? Are those stories covered on the front page of other papers as well? How much of the front page covers stories of local, national, and international importance?

Discuss similarities and differences between the day's news coverage. Encourage students to dig deeper into the newspapers to determine how much total space is devoted to different news stories (students could use rulers to measure "inches" of copy); to discover what topics are discussed on editorial pages; to find out how many front page news articles include photographs; and so on.

Extension activities:

• Students can create a Venn Diagram comparing the way in which two newspapers handle the same news story. Older students might use a Triple Venn Diagram to compare three newspapers' treatments of the story.
• Invite students to create charts comparing the number of comic strips on each newspaper's "funnies" page, the cost of a three-line classified ad, the number of reporters with bylines, the number of help-wanted ads, the number of pages devoted to sports coverage, the number of out-of-state datelines, the average cost of a home shown in the real estate section, and so on. A sample Comparing Newspapers work sheet is included.
• Students can select one piece of data recorded on their charts (see above) to create a graph illustrating that data.
• Have students clip news stories related to a given topic or event. Create a bulletin board showing at a glance how different newspapers handled the story.
• Collect mastheads from newspapers around the United States. Arrange them around a U.S. map. Use yarn to connect each masthead to the city on the map where the newspaper is published.

Assessment

Students will be evaluated based on a Venn diagram illustrating at least three similarities and differences in the way two newspapers handled a major news story and on an essay summarizing those similarities and differences.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

National Standards

LANGUAGE ARTS: English LANGUAGE ARTS: English

SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography