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misdemeanors: Minor criminal offenses, including most traffic violations, which usually result in a fine or brief confinement in a local jail. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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Lesson Plans




Mock Press Conference

Mark Webber
Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts
Laredo, Texas

Title:  Mock Press Conference

Generative Topics

  • How does a reporter, faced with limited time, prepare a useable set of questions that includes research into the topic?
  • How can a reporter use a press release to prepare for a press conference?
  • How can reporters get their questions answered during a press conference?
  • How can a reporter write, edit and revise copy, and submit same, when working under time constraints?

Generative Objectives

  • Students create a set of questions to be used for a mock press conference, including research into the topic.
  • Students strive to get their questions asked or answered during a press conference.
  • Students compile useable notes in order to write a rough draft.
  • Students edit and revise copy, and submit a near- or publishable story under time constraints.

Understanding Goals

  • Students should conduct research and prepare questions for a mock press conference in a limited period of time.
  • Students should take sufficient notes during the mock press conference to be able to write a story, including quotes, that accurately reflects what has taken place.
  • Students should edit, revise and produce a near- or publishable work under time constraints.

Performance of Understanding, Rationale and Timeline

This exercise is useful for assessment purposes, is excellent as an exam in itself, or as one component of a semester or final exam. Students, who assume the role of competitors, are given a teacher-written press release on a mock company or organization which is purposely incomplete. Students then prepare a set of questions to ask at a mock press conference. Question preparation can include doing research into the topic and then writing questions. The teacher assumes a persona for the press release and either sets a time limit for questioning or allows questioning to run its course. Students/competitors then independently write, edit and revise work, with the goal of turning in a near- or publishable work, depending on their skill levels. Depending on skill levels and desire outcomes, students can be allowed one-to-three days to complete this assignment.

Examples of topics used:

First person to scale Mt. Everest alone.
Leader of a scientific expedition which found a new species of tree.
President of a company which makes sleighs for Santa Claus.
A university scientist who has created a special grape which will be used to make juice for babies.
President of an online store which sells traditional foods for a holiday (customized for local customs).

Activities

  • Activity 1

Students and instructor discuss expectations of exercise. Instructor distributes mock press release.

  • Activity 2

Students research topics and create questions under a time constraint.

  • Activity 3

Students in the guise of competing reporters question the subject, the teacher who is also assuming a fictional role.

  • Activity 4

Students take enough notes during a mock press conference to accurately write about the event, including the use of quotes.

  • Activity 5

Students should revise, edit and produce a near- or publishable story under time constraints.

  • Activity 6 (optional)

Students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their final drafts in small or large groups.

  • Activity 7 (optional)

Students can assess papers written by students in other classes, or each other’s work.

Assessment

One or more ways to assess students’ work:

  • The instructor can use a rubric to grade stories.
  • The instructor can audio- or videotape the press conference and play back to allow for discussion and student self-assessment.
  • Students can compare their notes and stories with tape and each other.
  • Students can assess papers written by students in other classes, or each other’s work.

 



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