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photo chief: Someone who supervises the photography department of a newspaper. See also: photo editor.

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Lesson Plans

Becoming Your Own Worst Critic, Or, How to Critique a Newspaper

Mark Whitson of Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Ore.

Mark Whitson
Lebanon High School

Title: Becoming Your Own Worst Critic, Or, How to Critique a Newspaper


This lesson can be used to focus student attention on a variety of different aspects of newspapers. The related handouts are primarily focused on headlines, layout, and design of newspapers and interest and readability of articles. The handouts can be modified to focus on whatever aspect of student newspapers you desire your students to learn about.

It is also designed to help students develop their critique, group work and presentation skills.


  • Students will learn to identify positive and negative features of a variety of student newspapers.
  • Students will read and evaluate two articles of different styles from their chosen newspaper.
  • Students will work to evaluate their group ’s newspapers.
  • Each group will present their findings to the class.

Basic Lesson

  • 5-10 minutes setup, explain assignment, Select newspapers, form groups.
  • 20-25 minutes: Individual analysis of newspaper.
  • 10-15 minutes: Group analysis of newspaper.
  • 5-8 minutes: Presentation time for each group.
  • Depending on the number of students in your class create groups of 4 to 5 students. I have each student Select a number from my bowl and then, after Selecting a student newspaper, go to the designated table.
  • Once in their groups I handout the Individual and Group Newspaper Analysis sheets and explain my expectations.
  • I give students about 20 minutes on the Individual part. The group part should take no more than 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I set the timer.
  • Students begin work while I circulate and observe.
  • When all groups are finished, I Select a group to present their findings. The group comes to the front of the class and each member tells and shows the class a bit about their newspaper. Finally, the group presents their best and worst newspapers and tells the class their reasoning for this Selection.
  • Each group presents in turn. During presentations, I sometimes prompt the group with questions and I always assess participation points.


  • This lesson helps students to better understand the variety of student newspapers published and to become better judges of newspapers.
    Students typically exhibit high interest in this lesson because they are reading student newspapers from different schools. Also, they seem to enjoy discussing the newspapers in their groups and listening to fellow students present their findings.
  • Additionally, having group presentations takes pressure off the ‘shy ’ students and gives them a chance to strengthen their speaking skills without all the pressure of an individual presentation.
  • Finally, my Journalism I students critique every issue of our school paper and their feedback is required reading for the newspaper staff. This lesson helps them to provide better feedback to our newspaper staff.


  • Handouts:Individual analysis sheet and Group analysis sheet.
  • At least 30 different high school newspapers from a variety of schools. (Contact your local state scholastic press association to learn how to set up these exchanges. A link to many of them is here.

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