See our other articles on this series below:
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (1): understanding the fundamentals of media
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (2): the elements of a news story
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (3): learning to write news copy (part 1)
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (3): learning to write news copy (part 2)
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (4): learning to research and identify sources of information
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (5): learning to critique the media and spot ‘fake news’
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (6): tips and resources for fact checking
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (7): covering magazines and feature stories
- Teaching kids how to start a newspaper (8): desktop publishing, design and layout training
With the U.S. election recently taking place, teens may have wondered what all the fuss was about regarding ‘the media.’ Was the media biased? Or were journalists doing their job? This brings up an interesting project for kids that may be a forgotten art: how to start a newspaper.
Let’s keep asking questions: What is the role of media in our modern lives? How is a newspaper put together? How is today’s news source gathering different than it was 20 years ago?
Teaching kids how to start a newspaper can bring up related topics that can be an ongoing learning experience. It can spark kids’ interest in the following career-related fields:
- Writing and writing styles
- Research and fact checking
- Political process, commentary and opinion
- Communication analysis
- Layout and typography design
- Citizen journalism
- Online publishing and blogging
- Public relations
Let’s start with some of the things you can do as an educator to teach kids how to start a newspaper. You can do this as a classroom or school project, or as a homeschooling project.
We will make this an ongoing series on our education blog. Bookmark us to stay updated!
Step 1 on teaching kids how to start a newspaper: teach kids about the role of media in a democracy
Before your students get started on newspaper clippings and writing headlines, it would be wise to understand the principles on which media is founded.
Media has an important role in a democracy. And a democracy is the type of government and society we live in. This means that freedom of speech is, and should be a protected right among citizens of a democracy. That way, no one can be punished or persecuted for stating an opinion about a political leader. The theory here is that political leaders are thus held accountable for their actions, and must always act in the interests of the people it governs. The information spoken of in mass media is how citizens can decide who to vote for, which is essential in a democracy.
Here is a resource that helps a teacher explain the role of media to Grade 12 level students:
On this note, there is the need to explain to students:
- What is biased and unbiased reporting? How can it be spotted? (this is a big subject that can branch into several more questions kids can answer and learn about). See our educational blog post on teaching kids how to debate, for more resources on teaching this subject.
- What is censorship? Why does it matter? (a great documentary on this subject is #ChicagoGirl, which explores the role of a 19-year-old teen aiding a revolution in Syria through social media. She gives the internet access to citizen journalism footage, which would historically have been censored by dictatorships).
- What freedoms are guaranteed by the Canadian government? When would a government be ‘crossing the line’ in failing to ensure those freedoms? (This topic can cross over into a government or social studies class exploring the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms).
- What is the difference between free speech, and libel and slander laws to protect citizens? And, should hate speech be excluded from free speech? Why or why not?
- What is propaganda, and how does it affect public opinion? (The Canadian War Museum has a lesson plan prepared for this subject).
- How should journalists be protected, if at all? (This story in the Globe and Mail highlights a current case on this issue).
And so, with all of the above considered, your students can discuss the role of media in democracy. And they can ask, was it ok, according to democracy, for Donald Trump to ban specific media outlets from his 2016 election campaign events?
Your students may think the answer to the above question is ‘black and white.’ And this will be a great opportunity for you, as an educator, to remind them that there are always two sides to every story. In other words, you can teach students about bias in media (and how susceptible we all are to it).
Remember, there is more to this ‘Donald Trump media ban’ discussion when it comes to the first question in our list above: how can you spot biased reporting? This article by Vox delves into that explanation where Donald Trump is concerned. Then ask your students: were his complaints legitimate? And, did he have the right to do this, legally?
Educate students on the importance of reporting so they know how to start a newspaper
As we’ve seen above, understanding the purpose and role of media can help kids learn how to start a newspaper. This topic, while it stirs up debate and discussion, is not quite the practical side of making a newspaper yet. But it does help guide the process. With these foundational principles, students can then move on to learning how to write and report the news, plus several other steps to starting and running a newspaper.
Stay tuned as we delve into this project idea for kids in future educational blog posts!