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Journalistic research


After viewing a slideshow that identifies various types of research journalists use, students will practice locating information based on one of five story scenarios using Internet research. Students also will prepare a short summary of their research in which their sources are cited as they are in journalistic writing and they will defend why their sources are valid and reliable.


  • Students will recognize the purpose of journalistic research.
  • Students will evaluate research material for validity, authenticity and objectivity.
  • Students will analyze published stories and determine the type and effectiveness of the research within stories.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the difference between use of research and plagiarism by citing sources.
  • Advanced students will use the Internet, research sources, and/or social media sites to effectively conduct computer-assisted research and crowdsourced reporting as needed for their own projects.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.


2-3 class periods, with an option for advanced students to begin their own research for an in-depth or feature project


Slideshow: Journalistic research

Class set: Scenarios handouts

Class set: Analyzing News Stories for use of Research handout

Class set: Online resources handout

Research Assignment Rubric

News Gathering Vocabulary Slideshow

Research Vocabulary Handout

“Other Than Honorable” news stories at

Lesson step-by-step

Research-related vocabulary is available to accompany this lesson.  It can be found in slides 12-32 of the News Gathering Vocabulary slideshow. A research vocabulary worksheet is also provided. Most terms are covered as part of the Journalistic Research slideshow presentation, but you may use the vocabulary slideshow for daily bell-ringers, reinforcement, reteaching or a separate vocabulary lesson.

Day 1

1. Tap prior knowledge — 5 minutes

Ask students to think of the ways in which journalists, other than interviewing, would conduct research while reporting.

2. Slideshow — 25 minutes

Walk students through slides 1-18 of the Journalistic Research slideshow, stopping to discuss, answer questions, or provide/solicit examples as needed. Reinforce the need for them to choose valid websites and avoid plagiarism.

3. Begin scenarios activity – 15-20 minutes

Students may work individually or in pairs for this activity. There are five different scenarios. Each person or pair will work on one scenario only. Distribute the scenarios and explain that students will research the scenario – each of which is real – and try to determine how they would write a story using this information or spinning out of this event for their own school news media.

Go over the handout, answer questions and allow students to begin researching using computers, tablets or phones. The activity will continue in the next class period.


The presentation on researching can end here for beginners. Assign the scenario handout for homework.


Focus on completion and the ability to cite sources and justify web sources as reliable. Full credit should be given to students who correctly cite a valid web source. Use the Research Assignment Rubric.

Day 2 – For advanced and honors students.  Beginners skip to Day 3.

1. Slideshow, Part 2

Present slides 19-40, which introduce students to a variety of research tools beyond simple Internet research and interviewing. This is an essential lesson for advanced and honors students, but not necessarily for beginners.

2. Complete Scenarios Activity

Allow students time to complete the scenarios handouts. You may add requirements for advanced students, such as devising a poll, creating a panel discussion or conducting database research on the topic.

Day 3 (Advanced students may skip to Day 4+)

1. Share and discuss —15  minutes

As a class, have each pair discuss their findings and the process of completing the scenario assignment.

For advanced students: Hand out the Online Resources handout (or make it available on a shared drive) for use in researching future stories.

2. Analyze a story activity — 30 minutes or longer

Culminate this lesson by having students use the Analyzing Research in a News Story handout to analyze one of the four investigative news articles in the project “Other Than Honorable” from the Colorado Springs Gazette. Students should determine what research techniques were used by the reporter(s) of the story. This is primarily a reading activity and should be accomplished individually.

3. Closure

Have a short question-and-answer session with students about their reaction to the “Other Than Honorable” project. Try to keep focus on the reporting required to write and publish this story. Assign the Analyzing Research in a News Story handout for homework to allow time for students to read the entire story and find 10 research examples.


Use the Research Assignment Rubric to grade the Analyzing Research (News Story) handouts.

Day 4+ (For advanced students only)

1. Brainstorming — 15  minutes

As a class, have each student or group of students discuss ideas for an in-depth feature or story package.

Hand out the Online Resources handout (or make it available on a shared drive) and explain that students must use one or more of the research techniques covered in the presentation of the previous days in their next article for publication.

2. Individual work

In groups or individually, assign stories for publication. Students must use research resources to gain background knowledge, find sources and develop questions for their stories.

Move on to the lessons in Interviewing, Using Databases or Using Public Records, Conducting a Press Conference or News Gathering for specific story types, as needed for the stories planned.

Research quality will be assessed within the final project or you may require a research source check before students proceed to interviews.


Embedded in this lesson plan is an option for beginning students. For students who have difficulty reading on computers, copies of one or more of the stories in the Other Than Honorable series may be printed. Beginners may be more comfortable simply annotating a hard copy and finding the attribution of sources and researched information.