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News defined: What is news?


This is a basic lesson to teach students to recognize that news must be informative, interesting and factual, or it is not news. Students will recognize what is news and what is not news through reading examples of news reports and opinion articles and making some basic news judgments for themselves.


  • Students will recognize that news must be informative, interesting and factual.
  • Students will analyze current examples of news and determine why they are considered newsworthy.
  • Students will evaluate for themselves whether certain events are news or not and explain what makes it newsworthy.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners, topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


50 minutes


Slideshow: News defined

ELL Differentiated Slideshow: News defined

Handout: News or not news

ELL Differentiated Handout: News or not news

ELL Differentiated Handout: Defining news vocabulary predictions

Examples of news, opinion articles  (teacher selected)

Lesson step-by-step

1. Set and opener —  5-10 minutes

Start by asking the class to name a celebrity in the news.  Then ask, “How do you know about this person?” Entertain a discussion of news sources. Then ask,  “What makes something news?” Discuss the news of the day and whatever is on students’ minds. This might be a local story, national or international. Have a short discussion of the news of the day so that you have that as a point of reference for the presentation.

2. Defining news — 15 minutes

Use the slideshow to present information about what makes it news.  Emphasize the two I’s and F: Interesting, Informative, Factual.

3. Activity Option One – Handout: News or not news – 10-15 minutes

FOR BEGINNING STUDENTS: Have the students complete the handout, explaining in their own words why the events on the handout are newsworthy, or, if not newsworthy, what detail or fact might make it newsworthy.

Activity Option Two – Fact versus opinion think-pair-share

FOR ADVANCED STUDENTS: Before class, select and print one current news story of interest to students and one editorial expressing a related opinion. Print both without labeling. Assign students to read both pieces and determine which one is the news story and which is the opinion piece. Have them underline or highlight facts and opinion statements in both pieces as supporting evidence. When they are done reading, they should discuss the two articles. Do students agree on which is news and which is opinion?  Are there facts and opinions highlighted in both? Why or why not?

2A/3A. Optional extension for advanced or honors students:  After the discussion of the news/not news handout or the news article versus the opinion piece,  give students this assignment:

Generate one idea for a news story that would be of interest to readers of your student media. Explain the idea in one sentence. Then, generate an idea for a related opinion piece and write the idea for the opinion article in another sentence.  Finally, write a sentence or two explaining what will be the difference between the news article and the opinion piece.

4. Present and close — 5 minutes

Ask students to share what they found, or go over one or two of the news/not news examples and ask for students to respond.


News or not news handout: Student will complete all nine examples, offering  reasonable ideas about why something is newsworthy or what might need to happen to make something that’s not news into news for each.

Fact/Opinion activity: Students will correctly distinguish the news story from the opinion piece and find statements of fact in both. If opinion is found in the news story, it should be a quote or paraphrase from a source.

Option for advanced/honors students (useful for review of concepts):  Students will correctly identify the difference between a news story and an opinion article and will express the difference in writing.