Classroom Activities

Activity # 6

Using News Releases as Source Material  Newsrelease

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What is a news release?
A news release (also known as a press release) is a printed statement issued by a government, a politician, a company, an organization or a public figure. Sometimes it serves to promote a new program, product or activity. Other times, a news release publicizes a person or group's point of view on an issue.

In any case, a release usually represents the point of view of one party. Other groups with an interest in a subject may issue their own new releases in response to an announcement or a decision.

These days, many groups use the Internet to send their news releases. Your students can easily find a few releases on current topics and use them for a classroom exercise.


Classroom Activity
(recommended by Globe and Mail reporter, Lawrence Surtees)

  1. Pick a provincial or federal government site on the World Wide Web and find a recent speech or news release about a topic that received wide coverage in the media.

  2. Make a copy and identify what you think the single-most important point is -- find the angle -- and then write a one-sentence lead. See section on leads or ledes in The Reporter's Toolbox section of SNN.

  3. Then compare your lead with those in several published stories from local, national or out-of-town newspapers from the following day.


Here are a couple of good sites on the Web with easy access to lots of current news are:


Take it another step
Your students can take this process on step further by writing their own news stories from a news release.

  1. The students can start by locating a release on a topic that's been in the news recently.

  2. Do additional research on the Internet by looking for related news releases, responses from other groups and announcements. Some research in the library may be required in order to understand the background of a certain story.

  3. Once they've gathered the information they need, students can write their own version of the story. See the The Reporter's Toolbox section of SNN for newswriting tips.

  4. Finally, students can pull published versions of the story from various online newspapers and compare their work. Encourage the class to discuss the differences and similarities in their own stories and how they compare with those of working journalists. What are the common themes? Did the journalists have different elements in their stories because of the people they interviewed — in addition to using the news release?


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