Conducting a Press Conference
A lesson on navigating a press conference
Students will participate in a press conference with an invited source that eventually leads into a news/feature story. This is an activity requiring questioning, note taking, composing accurate/copy-ready quotes, and choosing story angles. Topical research is expected prior to the press conference. Prior to the press conference, students will prepare a shortlist of potential questions. During the press conference, students will ask questions and take notes. Following the press conference, students will prepare a quote sheet and submit a story idea. This activity may be followed with a news or feature story. This is part of a series of two-day lessons that provide live interviewing practice. The purpose of this lesson is to provide live interviewing practice, followed by news or feature writing practice.
- Students will produce a set of potential questions to use during the press conference.
- Students will accurately take notes on the press conference.
- Students will examine notes and create a quote list that may be used for a news or feature story. Accuracy and copy-readiness of quotes expected.
- Students will create one news or feature story angle based on the information collected during the press conference.
Common Core Standards
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.7||Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.|
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1c||Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.|
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2||Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.|
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2b||Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.|
90-120 minutes (45 minutes for press conference, remaining time for composing assignment)
Prep sheet or video link that gives background info on source, such as a bio, previous news story, or topical article (think of this as the ‘media kit’ often available at press conferences)
Reporter’s notebook and writing instrument
Bottled water for invited source
1. Building background — 10 minutes
Prior to the press conference, give students a prep sheet or link that serves as a media kit for the press conference. Students may use this information to formulate a set of potential questions to use during the conference. Whether you choose to invite a real person for this conference or come in character is up to you! Remind students that when they ask a question during a press conference, they should stand, state their name and publication, and then ask the question.
2. Conducting the conference — 40 minutes
The length of the conference depends on several factors, including time availability of the source, depth of the topic, and nature of the presentation. The conference generally follows this format: 1-2 minutes to introduce source, 15 minutes for source presentation, 15 minutes for whole group Q and A, 10 minutes for one-on-one questioning, and 3-5 minutes to conclude the conference (source may offer contact information for potential follow-up interviewing).
3. Composing the quote sheet: — 30-60 minutes
Following the conference, students will type a quote sheet that contains the following: a set of prepared follow-up questions, a proposal of the potential news or feature story angle they will write, and a list of quotes that could be used. Students are expected to compose the quotes accurately and ensure that the quotes are copy ready.
Use the rubric below to evaluate their participation in this activity.
Extension/adaptation of activity
The main purpose of the lesson is to provide students an outlet to practice interviewing skills. However, the press conference will create opportunities for news writing. Information may be used in a variety of ways, including story writing, sidebars, infographics, and multimedia. The press conference is an excellent activity to use in both introductory and production classes. The conference format may be adapted in a variety of ways. Time length may be shortened for specific topics or extended for more general topics. Regular conferences could be held during the year with prominent administrators. Panel discussions could be held to help develop story budgeting ideas for special coverage editions. Several press conferences could be arranged simultaneously allowing for smaller groups of student reporters to expand topical coverage.
|1 point||2 points||3 points||Total|
|Press conference participation||Student shows little to no participation during conference.||Student shows willingness to take detailed notes but shows lack of effort to pose questions at any time during the conference.||Student actively engages or attempts to engage with the source during the conference.||_____/3|
|Questioning||Student shows little to no preparation prior to conference. Prepared questions lack connection to potential topics to be addressed. Timeliness of questions is lacking. Student shows no attempt to follow-up with additional questions.||Students show some preparation prior to conference. Questions connect to potential topics to be addressed, but are too predictable and do not attempt to engage the source. Questions may not show complete objectivity.||Student shows thorough preparation prior to the interview. Potential questions address the potential topics and show potential to produce thoughtful, in-depth responses. Questions do not pander the source and promote story objectivity.||_____/3|
|Accuracy of quotes||Composition of quotes reflect poor note taking skills and are inaccurate.||Composition of quotes is generally accurate but contain some errors.||Composition of quotes is completely accurate and contain no errors.||_____/3|
|Copy-readiness of quotes||More than two errors in grammar and mechanics are found. Use of information does not warrant the use of direct quotations. Quotes show lack of news gathering skill.||No more than two errors in grammar and mechanics are found. Use of information may warrant the use of direct quotes but could be further developed. Quotes may be trite. Quotes show some news gathering skill.||Complete control of grammar and mechanics apparent. Use of information shows depth, is revealing, and provide fresh perspectives. Quotes are well developed and avoid triteness. Quotes show excellent news gathering skill.||_____/3|
|Submission of story angle||Choice of story angle is too basic and lacks any news value.||Choice of story angle may have some news value but may lack potential reader engagement.||Choice of story angle shows consideration of news value, potential for fresh perspective, and most likely will lead to high reader engagement.||_____/3|