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Going live: A comparison of real-time coverage options


Students explore three strategies for real-time coverage, evaluating coverage scenarios to select the most appropriate method.


  • Students will be able to identify three types of live coverage options.
  • Students will evaluate the effectiveness of each option in a hypothetical situation.
  • Students will cover a live event using one or more digital tools.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.


120 minutes


Slideshow: “Going live: Three real-time coverage options”

Handout: Live coverage scenarios

Rubric: Live coverage

Internet access (to project video clips from YouTube)

Publications staff or student accounts to use coverage tools

Lesson step-by-step

1. Introduction — 20 minutes

Begin by explaining to students that journalists have strived, for as long as journalism has existed, to expedite the delivery of news to audiences. From the morning edition of newspapers, to radio broadcasts, to live television coverage, journalism has, over time, made it possible for viewers to get as close to the news in real time as possible.

To emphasize the importance and value of live coverage, have students look at the three clips of live news coverage of major events (JFK assassination, moon landing, Sept. 11). Use the following prompts (also in the slideshow presentation) for a quick written response or group discussion:

  1. What do all three live news examples share in common? Do you notice any changes from the first (1963) to the third (2011)?
  1. What does live coverage look like now, in an Internet age — when many people have Internet access from devices like smartphones and computers? What’s different?

Discuss student responses to the quick response questions. They may include:

  • Audience doesn’t have to wait for news cameras to arrive
  • Individual witnesses control their own content and can share it online
  • Handheld video brings the audience closer than ever before (e.g. the streets of Egypt in revolution)
  • Twitter allows for immediate updates, and collects voices under news “trends” (This is a good time to explain hashtags, if necessary.)

2. Overview  — 20 minutes

Continuing with the slideshow presentation, guide students through the three live coverage options, the school-related live coverage opportunity brainstorm (in slideshow), and the guiding questions for determining the best live coverage solution.

3. Activity — 30 minutes

Now students will be asked to evaluate live coverage scenarios and decide in groups which live coverage approach they would use and why. Let them know that it is okay to combine strategies, but they will need to make sure that they will have enough reporters to execute their plan and they must be able to justify their response using the information discussed in class. Each student should have a copy of the Live Coverage Scenario handout and should write their responses directly on the sheet.

Once students have made their decisions, lead the class in a discussion of each scenario and the live coverage possibilities and challenges related to it.

4. Summative assessment — 20 minutes/varies

To demonstrate their understanding of live coverage rationale and the approaches to covering news and events live, students will cover a live event with a small group of their peers. Students should plan in advance and select a medium appropriate to the event using the three guiding questions.

Provide time in class for students to prepare for covering the event with their groups.

5. Summative assessment critique — 30 minutes/varies by class/group size

Following their live coverage, students should prepare a 5-minute presentation in which they:

  • share their coverage (should be embedded into a post on the class Website or publication news site)
  • explain why they chose to cover the event as they did
  • describe any surprises or lessons learned
  • get feedback/critique from the teacher and their peers

Use the rubric to evaluate the live coverage assessment.


The live coverage scenario evaluation handout could be assigned as homework rather than completed in class. The following day’s class period could begin with a discussion of students’ solutions.

The group critique of the live coverage assignment (summative assessment) could be completed in writing rather than through group presentation.

Some students may need the teacher to provide a specific live coverage opportunity. Another option is to have the class complete the live coverage assessment together in class using a collection of news clips.