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hard lead : A lead that reports a new development or newly discovered fact. See also soft lead. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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Lesson Plans

Defining Roles and Setting Goals for the Newspaper

David Schiopopta of Barberton High School in Barberton, Ohio.

David Schiopota
Barberton High School
Barberton, Ohio

Title: Defining Roles and Setting Goals for the Newspaper

Long-term objective:

Students will become mission-oriented in their work on the newspaper staff and operate as a team.

Short-term objectives:

Students will analyze the roles newspapers play in society and establish their own goals for the Magician.

Materials needed:

  • copies of “Roles of High School Newspapers” handout (see related articles)
  • last year’s school newspaper issues (or exchange issues from other high schools)


  • make copies of handout
  • determine small groups of 3-4 people each (the more diverse, the better)


Session One:

  • Set Induction: Ask the class to think quietly for a minute on the question: “Why do people read newspapers?” Have students turn to a partner and share their answers. Ask a handful of individuals to share aloud to the class what they thought or heard that they agreed with. Write a brief summary of each answer on the blackboard.
  • Distribute “Roles of High School Newspapers” handout to entire class and review the list with students. As the class moves through the list, connect their earlier responses to the roles defined on the handout.
  • Distribute one or two issues per group of last year’s school newspaper issues (or exchange issues from other high schools). Ask each group to browse the issues and determine what the top 3 priorities (in terms of roles) each issue emphasizes as published. Share these responses group by group, taking note on the board of the variety of answers. After all have shared, draw conclusions as to what roles predominated.
  • Direct students to review the list of roles to answer the following questions in their small groups. (Each group should write down their responses to hand in.)
    • Which three roles do you perceive to be least important our newspaper? Why?
    • Which three roles do you perceive to be top priorities for our newspaper? Why?

Session Two: (next class meeting)

  • Develop an overhead showing each group’s top three and bottom three responses.
  • Present the overhead to the entire class. Draw out significant overlap and glaring differences of opinion among the groups. Initiate a discussion as to why groups made the choices they did.
  • Ask each individual to vote by secret ballot for his or her top three priorities for our newspaper.
  • Have the editors compile the results and report the top three choices. Using these results, ask each student to create a publication mission statement that begins: “The mission of the Magician will be to … (e.g., demonstrate leadership, advocate school pride, etc.)
  • Have the editors review each submission and choose their favorite (parts from several) to become the staff mission statement. Post it in large letters in the newspaper production room.


Each student will receive credit for submitting a group list of responses and for individually submitting a mission statement.

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