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News judgment


This lesson defines news judgment and eight news values used for determining whether something is newsworthy. Following a presentation on the news judgment, students will analyze current news stories based on the eight news values and/or apply the news values to their previously published story and to one idea for a future story.  The lesson concludes with a test that requires students to appropriately identify the news value and potential sources for which they will write questions pertaining to the news value chosen.

For a more thorough explanation of what news is, including an introduction to bias, balance and objectivity, see this lesson in the Writing module.

A similar lesson on news values is available in the Writing module.


  • Students will define news judgment and apply the generally known news values.
  • Students will analyze and evaluate news articles, determining what news values are emphasized.
  • Students will demonstrate ability to consider news values in their past and future writings.
  • Students will write questions to elicit answers that elucidate the news value of a given topic or scenario.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
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.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.


Three 50-minute classes


Slideshow: Defining news judgment

Class set: News judgment analysis handout

Class set: News judgment evaluation handout

News judgment vocabulary terms

Access to two current event articles (print or online)

Class set: News judgment exam

News judgment rubric and key


Slideshow: News gathering vocabulary terms

Lesson step-by-step


1. Build background and vocabulary – 10 minutes

Open the class with an example from today’s news that is of interest to students.  Ask:  What made this news?   Answers will vary depending on the news, but eventually, you should be able to get students to agree that the story is both INTERESTING and INFORMATIVE.  News must be both, as well as FACTUAL, or it’s not news.

2. Slideshow — 30 minutes

Present slideshow “News Judgment and Looking at Scenarios,” allowing time for discussion at designated points and encouraging students to take notes.  The slideshow can end at Slide 27, or continue on to one or both of the given scenarios.  Slides 28-37 use a college football upset between rival SEC teams to discuss the eight news values.  Slides 38-47 use the derailment of a Chicago CTA train at O’Hare for the same process.  (See differentiation for how to use the various parts of this slideshow for different students).

FLIPPED CLASSROOM OPTION:  If you use EdMoto or a similar program to communicate with students through the Internet, you could post this slideshow and require students to read it as homework, then come to class ready to work.  If you use this option, start with Slide 27 to review the News Values and discuss.

3. Exit Activity

Require students to turn in the list of eight news values as an exit card.  Scan and grade based on number listed and number correct and return before exam.


1. Review/tap prior knowledge – 10-20 minutes

Option 1, best for Journalism 1 or beginning students: The News Gathering module includes a 60-word vocabulary list that includes the news judgment vocabulary. You can begin the vocabulary lesson here using the News Gathering Vocabulary Terms slideshow. Slides 2-12 review the key news judgment terms. They match to definitions provided in the vocabulary review handouts, which contain all the terms in random order.  Students search for the terms by definition and fill them in their handouts as you review the terms. Collect these lists to use as you add vocabulary in each News Gathering unit, or have students keep them in a portfolio. The News Gathering module concludes with optional Vocabulary Bingo, Word Sort activity  and vocabulary test.

You may also wish to use the terms in the vocabulary slideshow to build a  journalism Word Wall in your classroom.

For a quick quiz of News Judgment terms, you can use Section 6 of the News Gathering Vocabulary Test.

Option 2, for advanced/ honors students and mixed groups: Quickly review the eight news values using Slide 27 of the “News Judgment and Looking at Scenarios” slideshow or using one of the scenarios provided.

Option 3, for any level:  If you used the scenarios in the previous day’s class and you can display web pages on a projector in the classroom, go to the Newseum’s front pages  ( and discuss the news values based on today’s news on several front pages from various regions of the country. Look at each and discuss what news judgment tends to dominate the coverage of the day. Compare and contrast.

2. Activity — 20-30 minutes

FOR BEGINNING/ ESOL/ESE: Provide the handout “Analyzing Stories for News Judgment,”  to students (or use Google Docs). Ask students to students analyze a current news story that you provide or, if you have classroom access to the Internet, let them use computers and phones to find and analyze one or two news stories of their own choosing to complete the handout.

FOR ADVANCED STUDENTS: Provide the handout “News Judgment Evaluation” or use Google docs. Students will analyze a story or video they created for news value and look ahead to their next story idea for news value.

3. Closure – 10 minutes

If time permits, allow students to discuss their results in small groups. Collect the handouts or assign for homework.


1. Review and prep for assessment

Review the news values using Slide 27, but this time discuss the kinds of questions reporters must ask to get the information for each news value. This sets up the assessment, which provides scenarios and asks students to identify a news value and write questions designed to highlight that value in their stories.

Go over the directions on the exam before starting.

2. Summative Assessment — 40 minutes

Culminate the lesson with the test on news judgment.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY IN LIEU OF WRITTEN EXAM: Divide the class into five groups and provide two scenarios to each group.  Each group must decide what news values they would highlight in stories on each scenario and write questions designed to elicit the information they would need to highlight that value.  Each group member must provide at least two questions for one of the scenarios on an exit card and identify the news value chosen.

Allow time for each group to present one of their two scenarios.


The slideshow can be used as a full teacher-led lesson or a review of news values for more advanced students. Depending on the level of understanding, the scenarios can be used for review, reteaching or reinforcement.

Advanced students should apply the Rule of Eight to their own past work and use the eight news values presented to develop their own story ideas.

Beginners should first apply the Rule of Eight to a current news story of their own choice.

FOR BEGINNING/ ESOL/ESE: Provide the handout “Analyzing Stories for News Judgment,”  to students (or use Google Docs). Ask students to analyze a current news story that you provide or, if you have classroom access to the Internet, let them use computers and phones to find and analyze one or two news stories of their own choosing to complete the handout.