Activity # 6
News Releases as Source Material
Note: We recommend that you print this page for
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
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.
by Globe and Mail reporter, Lawrence Surtees)
- 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.
- 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
- Then compare your lead with those in several published stories
from local, national or out-of-town newspapers from the following
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.
- The students can start by locating a release on a topic that's
been in the news recently.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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