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Lesson Plans

Deedra Darby
English Teacher/Newspaper Adviser
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Related File

A worksheet to help students decide what a newspaper’s role is.

Lesson Plans

English Teacher/Newspaper Adviser

English Teacher/Newspaper Adviser

Deedra Darby of Tinora High School in Defiance, Ohio,

Deedra Darby
Tinora High School
Defiance, Ohi

Title: What’s Your Function?

Overview and Rationale

  • In order tcreate a product that meets the needs of the audience, student journalists need to know what those needs are. This lesson introduces students to the functions the public expects members of the media to perform.

Goals for Understanding

  • Essential Questions
    • What functions are the media expected to perform in our society?
  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • Why are these social functions important in our society?
    • Which of the roles is most important? Least important?
    • Does the local media play these roles? In what ways?
    • Does our newspaper reflect these social roles within our school? Are the roles different within the school setting?

Overviews and Timeline

  • Activity 1 (Homework Assignment)
    • Read the section titled “A Journalist’s Job” in the textbook (pp. 27-30). On a sheet of notebook paper, list the functions the media is expected to carry out in order of most important to least important. The list should reflect your opinion of what is most and least important. Then, write a paragraph explaining your choices for the most important responsibility and the least important responsibility.
  • Activity 2 (One 40-minute class)
    • Students share what functions of the media they find most and least important. Tally on the board the most common answers.
    • Pair off and use provided tally sheet to analyze section A of the local daily paper. Each pair should use a different issue to get a more accurate analysis of the publication’s commitment teach responsibility.
  • Activity 3 (One 40-minute class)
    • Combine the tally sheets from the previous class session to determine how well the local paper carries out the functions of the media. Discuss how their coverage compares with what students find to be the most important functions of journalists.
    • The closely related agenda setting and social functions may be difficult to analyze from just one issue of the paper. Discuss observations as a large group.
    • Break out back issues of their own paper. Discussion: How do you think our paper measures up to the standards you set for professional papers? Are there responsibilities that we can’t carry out with the position we’re in? How can we better function as responsible journalists in a school setting?


  • Discussion
  • Tally sheets/homework assignment


  • Ferguson, Donald L. and Jim Patten. “Journalism Today” Fourth Edition. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Company. 1993.

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