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Practical Ideas for Teaching Journalism


    The Interview

    • Students need to learn how to interview subjects for news stories. After they've mastered the basic journalism style of writing, leading with the most important information and learning the basic questions of who, what, when, where, why and how, pair the students and ask them to interview one another. Ask them to write a 500-word article on a special event in the life of the interviewee. Next, ask students to interview three people in their lives they admire. Have them follow this up by interviewing a leader in business, politics or other areas of society.

    From the Horse's Mouth

    • Not all professors in journalism work in the field. Some have only academic knowledge of journalism. Invite working journalists to the class. Ask them to speak on their areas of expertise and also leave time for questions. Ask the students beforehand to have at least three questions written and ready to ask the visiting journalist. Journalists write what they're assigned. Bring in editors, managers and owners to explain what they do and to answer questions.

    Sharp Eye

    • Prepare surprises for the students to test their powers of observation and to encourage them to be more aware of their surroundings. For example, plan a scenario in which someone rushes into the class, has an altercation with you or a student then rushes out. Ask the students to describe what happened, what the person wore and said. If caught in a story, have them consider how they'd go about uncovering enough information to turn the encounter into a news story.

    Create a Newspaper

    • Have students cut out new stories from newspapers and place them in a large envelope. Divide students into groups and ask them to choose the most important stories from their envelopes to create the front page of a newspaper. Also get them to seek out and write stories for their newspaper.

    Make it Real

    • A practical idea for teaching journalism is to have the students regularly write news stories with deadlines attached. If stories are not turned in on time, they receive no credit for work done. Have students write and send letters to the editor as well as editorials to various newspapers. In addition, have them research guidelines of media outlets for which they wish to write, prepare a query letter and an article to send to a real newspaper or magazine. Include interning at a media outlet as part of the journalism course.

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