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copy editor: A person who checks, polishes and corrects stories written by reporters. Usually copy editors write headlines for those stories, and sometimes they decide how to arrange stories and pictures on a page. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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Thurma Hilton
Journalism teacher
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Lesson Plans

Diversity Does Matter

What Does It Take to Write a Good Story?

Diversity Does Matter

Thurma Hilton of West Oso High School in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Thurma L. Hilton
West Oso High School
Corpus Christi, Texas

Title: Diversity Does Matter

Overview and rationale for unit

Although students may attend a school, where one ethnic group is predominant, we do live in a pluralistic society. That fact needs to be acknowledged by insuring that stories and images of all groups on the campus are properly included in the student publication. This unit should take about one week.

Goals for understanding:

  • Essential questions
    • What is diversity?
    • Why should we be concerned about it? Does it matter in the stories we write?
    • Whose job is it to see that all groups that make up the student body are included in the student publication?
  • Critical engagement questions
    • What do you suppose it is like to attend a school, where you never see a picture of, or read a story about someone who looks like you in the student publication?
    • Will including stories about people from the diverse groups on campus make for a more interesting publication? Why?
    • Who benefits from being sensitive to diversity issues?
    • Is diversity an ethical, moral or “feel good” issue? Why?


Activity 1

  • Have students define diversity. Discuss what it means and if they think we have practiced diversity in our publication. (Use questions from Part 3: Discussion Guide from “The National Time-Out for diversity and scholastic media ” material.

Activity 2

  • Introduce the concept of an audit to the class. Using Part 5 Doing your own audit of “The National Time-Out” project, have the students do an audit of our publications from last year. Have them complete the “What does it mean?” section and discuss their findings.

Activity 3 (This activity is conditioned upon you obtaining a local newspaper’s content audit; see below)

  • Give them copies of the audit and analysis report from the San Antonio Express-News to compare their findings in the student newspaper against a professional publication. Are there any differences, similarities? What does this tell us anything about the practices of news rooms with regards to diversity issues? Why?

Activity 4

  • Give students copies of “Transmitting Values: A Guide to Fairer Journalism” by Keith Woods, The Poynter Institute. And “Covering Race and Ethnicity in Your Community” by Stephen Magagnini, The Sacramento Bee. Review and discuss with them the issues addressed in these papers.


Students will write a set of newsroom guidelines, designed to insure that they will intentionally work to provide tasteful and appropriate coverage of the diverse groups, which make up the student body and staff on campus.

Recommended readings and sources

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