News Writing: Building a Case with Digital Footprints
Time to teach: 2 Weeks
The goals of this unit are (1) to build on the information gathering skills developed in our initial “Search” unit; (2) to give students the tools they need to safely and courteously navigate the Web; and (3) to improve students’ writing and critical thinking skills by training them in basic newswriting.
As we go through our 21st century lives we generate an extensive network of digital footprints, defining our public presence in ways that are both positive and negative. This unit is designed to stretch students’ understanding of their own public digital presence and how to control that presence as it grows.
The primary means of conveying this awareness will be through the examination of the digital presence of another individual — a public figure whose digital footprints will be the subject of a digital dossier assembled by the students; and later of interview questions to be posed to their guest speaker, and of their news story.
Other objectives include:
After learning the rules of netiquette, students will write an invitation to a local public figure to address the class and answer questions in a press conference format. Once the invitation has been accepted, students will conduct background research on their press conferee (taking time out to replicate the process on themselves and reflect on their Web presence) and use the results of that research to build interview questions for their press conference. Then they’ll write a news story based on the information elicited in the press conference.