It's my story: helping care-experienced young people give effective media interviews

What is news?

Trainer notes

This section of the training is designed to get young people thinking about the element that make up a news story – elements such as:

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:

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:

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

  • 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
Slide 9: sample text:

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.