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lay out (v.) : The process of preparing page drawings to indicate where stories and pictures are to be placed in the newspaper. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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Lesson Plans

Transition from essays to features, news and editorials

Bo Moore of Bowden High School in Bowden, Ga., and the University of West Georgia.

Bo Moore
student instructor (University of West Georgia)
Bowdon High School
Bowdon, Ga.

Title: Transition from essays to features, news and editorials

Overall Objective: Students should understand the basic elements of features, editorials, and news stories. Also, students will be able to identify and understand the difference of these types of articles in comparison to an essay.


  • Students will understand the difference between essay and features, editorials and news stories.
  • Students will understand that features are emotional, “human,” and can sometimes have an entertaining appeal.
  • Students will understand that features and news do not contain the writer’s opinion.
  • Students will understand that an editorial are opinionated, but educated, view of a subject that interjects the writer’s opinion where he or she can also make assumptions based on factual information.
  • Students will understand the basic elements of a feature story, an editorial and a news story (review).

Materials: Copies of newspaper articles that are examples of news, editorials and features.

Activities: (35 minutes)

  • Pass out worksheets and have the students take 5-10 minutes to read through the articles. Have the students write two sentences at the bottom of each article, summarizing the point of the piece.
  • Write the seven core news values on the board:
    • Timeliness
    • Proximity
    • Impact
    • Human Interest
    • Novelty
    • Prominence/Celebrity
    • Conflict **
  • Ask students which article they think is the news article.
    • Is the story unbiased?
    • Does it express an opinion?
    • Remember that the more core values that a story holds, the more newsworthy it is for the readers.
    • Still different than an essay (reminder of differences)
  • After telling the students which story is the feature story, have them model the lead of the feature handout.
    • How was it different than a news lead? What is it missing?
    • After reading the story, what do you think makes this article a feature?
    • Longer shelf life.
    • Human Interest
    • Novelty
    • Longer
    • More quotes
    • Feature breakdown.
    • “Tease me you devil . . .”
    • Tell me what you are talking about
    • Oh yeah, prove it!
    • Give me something memorable
  • Now, have the students model the lead of the editorial.
    • What is different about this type of lead?
    • Look at the rest of the article. Read the editorial example worksheet.
    • What is the point?
    • Is it powerful? Persuade you?
    • Other elements?
    • How different from an essay? (Make sure students understands this concept)
    • And editorial has three basic parts.
      • Introduction – get readers’ attention
      • Body – persuade the reader
      • Conclusion – prompt reader to take action (****very important)
    • In more detail, the SPECS process shows the process of how an editorial should work.
      • State the problem
      • Position on the problem
      • Evidence to support the problem
      • Conclusions of who is affected and how
      • Solutions to the problem – hopefully two (****very important)

Assessment (15 minutes):

  • Have the students take each of the three handouts and label them as each as editorial, feature or news.
    • Have the students identify the news article.
      • What makes it news?
      • Is different than an essay for a teacher?
      • Why?
    • Have the students share which one is the feature story first.
      • What type of lead does it have?
      • Does the story flow well with a human or special interest?
      • How is it different from a news story?
    • Finally, have the students identify the editorial article.
      • Does it contain SPECS?
      • Does it make a point?

Have students write:

What I learned today was . . . What surprised me was . . . What I want to learnmore about is . . . .

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