It's my story: helping care-experienced young people give effective media interviews
What is news?
This section of the training is designed to get young people thinking about the element that make up a news story – elements such as:
- something out of the ordinary. ‘Dog bites man’ is pretty run of the mill stuff, but ‘Man bites dog’ is news because it’s unexpected
- likely to contain some powerful emotions/conflicts of emotions: fear, hate, love, anger, bravery
- dramatic and original – the first woman to fly around the world was big news. The second or third woman to do this wasn’t quite so newsworthy. The fourteenth woman to do this probably doesn’t get a mention on national news.
- affecting people!
There are many definitions of news but Slide 8 can be very useful because it makes the essential (but not always obvious) link between people and the news.
To illustrate this you might want to give some examples, such as:
- A news story about a building falling down is not particularly interesting if you just focus on the destruction of the architecture. As soon as you bring people into the story and include the impact on their lives and how they feel about it, it becomes much more dramatic.
- News stories about animals relate to the context in which those animals exist in our society. Stories about the owner’s grief at a kidnapped or lost pet only work in societies where pets are common. In societies where animals are essential to life, news about the death of a herd of goats is more likely to focus on people’s distress that they won’t be able to feed their families.
What is news?
Harold Evans, who used to be editor of The Times newspaper said:
‘News is people. It is people talking and people doing. Committees, cabinets and courts are people; so are fires, accidents and planning decisions. They are only news because they involve and affect people.’Slide 8: sample text:
Slide 9 relates to some of the issues covered in Brush up your knowledge of the media. Young people don’t need a great deal of information about this, but they do need opportunities to realise that:
- journalists often need interviews today – they can’t wait until tomorrow
- not all stories get used – and a journalist may be as disappointed as the people they have interviewed when their story is pushed out by a bigger news story. (It is important to stress this point – sometimes young people will spend a lot of time giving interviews and then find that their interview is not used. On some occasions stories are postponed and used at a later date.)
The bullet point ‘Features are the older brothers and sisters of news’ is specifically worded to invite questions and generate discussion. You can use it to explain that news is like the excited small child who wants everything now – and is very active about getting it! Features are like more mature teenagers who are more considered and thoughtful. They go into a bit more depth and they often weigh up a number of different points of view quite carefully. But they can be passionate and deliver a punch when they need to!
More about news
Slide 9: sample text:
- News is immediate!
- We talk about ‘breaking news’, ‘the most up-to-the-minute stories’, ‘24 hour news’, ‘coming live from the scene’, ‘happening in front of our eyes’
- News journalists work to very tight deadlines
- ‘Features’ are the older brothers and sisters of news!
- Always find out the journalist’s deadline
- News ‘breaks’ all the time so sometimes a bigger story replaces a smaller story
It can be helpful to take along some local and national newspapers and get young people to spot the news stories and the features. News stories are almost always on the front page and near the front. Features start to appear later in the paper and in supplements.
Looking at newspapers can also help young people to think about some of the elements which make up a feature. For example, in newspaper features the people interviewed are often photographed and more detail is written about them, to help the reader get a more rounded picture of their circumstances. (Although this course is primarily about broadcast media, newspapers are often a more accessible way of demonstrating the differences between news and features.)
These discussions should help young people to realise that news journalists and features journalists usually work to different deadlines and may have different requirements.