Search Menu


This site is available only to JEA members. Please log in below.

Deconstructing news features


Sometimes being a good editor means expanding your knowledge about what makes a good article. Editing isn’t just the mechanics. It should include looking at the parts of the article and making sure each is doing its part. How does the lead work? Is there a nut graf? What kinds of sources does the reporter use? How are they quoted? What about the ending? To gain that knowledge, it’s good to deconstruct a story and analyze how it’s put together.



  • Students will be able to identify parts of a well-constructed news feature.
  • Students will understand the organization of a news feature.
  • Students will apply this knowledge to a student-written article they are editing.


Common Core Standards



Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.


Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.


Use appropriate and varied transitions and syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.



50 minutes



Slideshow: “Deconstructing News Features”

Handout: “Future of media jobs” article

Highlighters — if possible one yellow, one orange and one blue to each student

Handout: Annotated version of the article

Current drafts of student work, ready for editing


Lesson step-by-step

1. Provide a bridge – 10 minutes

Show the brief slide presentation about deconstructing news features, emphasizing the importance of editors looking at the organization and parts of an article, not just the commas and AP style. To make sure the story flows and covers all it needs to cover is perhaps an editor’s most important job. It’s a matter of looking at the forest, not just the trees. Leave the last slide of the presentation on the screen.

2. “The Future of Media” article and instructions – 15 minutes

Hand out a copy of “The Future of Media Jobs” to each student. Give each student (or pair of students, if supplies are limited) an orange, a yellow and a blue highlighter. Leave the “Now your turn” slide on the screen and ask students to individually or in pairs mark those items on their copies. You might have a “story” in lorem ipsum (filler text) to demonstrate writing where the lead is, etc. Walk around to be sure they understand the directions. Ask them to keep another set of notes, reacting to the questions on the slide: Does the lead grab your attention? Does the nut graf summarize the article? Etc.

3. Whole class discussion and feedback – time could vary – 10 minutes

Discuss as a group each bullet point on the list. You could project the annotated version of the article, showing each part and the class comments on it. Be sure students can offer suggestions for improvement if they think it’s not as good as they would like it. Finally, the last slide of the slideshow asks students to consider any missing essential information. This is a great place to review the “forest”—the who, what, where, when, why and how of this story. As an extension or to transition to more revision, consider asking students to jot dot additional questions they wished the story answered or context they would like provided. What sources could help here? Where would this additional information go? Considering these questions helps them to be better writing coaches for the reporter as they work to revise.



Formative assessment

Student responses during the discussion would indicate if they understand the concepts.


Summative assessment — 15 minutes

Working in pairs, have students exchange their own stories that are ready for editing and mark them in a similar fashion. Be sure they discuss as they go along. Indicate if the nut graf isn’t clear or is missing, if the article lacks any expert sources, etc. The stories with highlighting and comments can be turned in at the end of the class.



A pre-selected student article could be used instead of editing in pairs, particularly with those less experienced at editing. This would allow the group to work together with the article projected and the teacher leading them through the process. In fact, some editors do this will ALL articles. More eyes (and brains) can help.