Lesson 12 (Six Class Periods)

Editing – Fair and Balanced Reporting

“At CNN, our view is that good journalism equals good business.”
Jim Walton

This lesson will introduce students to editing and how important editing is related to telling a fair, balanced and accurate story. Since the beginning of this curriculum, students have been learning the importance of ethics in journalism and the importance of fair, balanced and accurate reporting. This not only applies to reporters and anchors, but also producers, directors and editors responsible for developing and editing broadcast content.

Objectives/Knowledge Retained

An understanding of how editing plays an important role in telling the story
An understanding of how to edit material.


Activity One (Day 1)
Students will view several new stories with the volume turned down, depending only on the video content to tell the story. Have students watch each segment and briefly summarize what they think the story is about. After this is completed, have the students watch the stories again, this time with the sound on. How do their summaries compare with what the stories are actually about?

Activity Two (Days 2 and 3)
Students will take the footage shot from Lesson 7(the same groups) and edit the content to fit their written script from Lesson 7.

Activity Three (Days 4 and 5)
Students (the same groups) will take the above activity and attempt to edit the video content in a way that the story says the complete opposite of what its original intent. Have the students watch both videos and compare and contrast. How different was the first story to the second story? This will reinforce the importance of good editing and how easy it is to add bias to a story by simply editing the video content.

Materials/Resources Needed:

Taped news stories (or IPTV)

Anticipatory Set (Day 1):

At the beginning of class, students will immediately begin the first activity. This will serve as an introductory assignment to the lesson.


Students will learn the importance of identifying several different sources, both primary and secondary. Additionally, students will learn the importance of checking sources to make certain the sources are correct. By knowing the different types of sources, students will be able to report a more in-depth, accurate story.

Input (Day 3, 4 and 5)

Students will divide into groups of three or four and conduct a news conference. Students will decipher who will serve as the interviewer and interviewees. The interviewer will decide which sources they want to interview and the interviewees will serve as those sources. The teacher will tape each conference and the interviewer (along with the group) will be responsible for writing the story/script for the evening news. The following considerations need to be explained to the students:

As a reporter, always remember your job is to produce a balanced, fair, and accurate report.

As an interviewee, it’s up to you – what you want to tell and how you want to tell it. Don’t volunteer any information, unless you want to.

For the reporter: Use the questions created in the previous assignment and add, if necessary. Remember to create open-ended questions, not “yes/no” questions. Be prepared to ask questions that you may not have already composed.

After the news conference, students will write a script for the story for the evening news.

Model (ongoing)

Before the news conference activity, show an example of a news conference. This could be any news conference, a Tony Snow news conference to a local news conference relevant to the community. Have the students watch this conference and as a teacher, point out good examples of questions and bad examples of questions.

Check for Understanding (ongoing)

Before students begin their activity, the teacher will measure understanding through the written interview questions turned in on day 2 of the lesson. Make sure students are grasping the difference between primary and secondary sources.

Guided Practice (ongoing)

The last several days of the lesson have consisted of guided practice before the news conference activity. Students should have a good idea through the different activities throughout the lesson of how to successfully decipher primary/secondary sources, as well as how to compose effective questions for each category.

Closure (Day 6)

After writing the evening news script, students will turn the assignment in as a group project. Students should be graded on whether or not they understand the difference between primary and secondary sources and how accurate their story was based on the news conference footage. Tell students that this lesson will be used in a future lesson on editing.

Independent Practice/Enrichment

Have students write an essay of the importance of primary and secondary sources, as well as their accuracy and validity, as it pertains to real-world broadcasting. Have students cite examples of different stories/broadcasts, or the journalists reporting them.

Integration into live broadcast

As the role of reporter and/or anchor (and even the producer and director), the use of primary and secondary sources will always be prevalent, ensuring a well-rounded story. For the reporter and/or anchor, as well as the daily news show producer, fact-checking will also be equally important.

National Educational Standards Met

Language Arts, Standard 1: Read a wide range of print and non-print texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information, to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace, and for personal fulfillment.
Language Arts, Standard 4: Adjust their use of spoken, written and visual language to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
Language Arts, Standard 7: Conducts research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. Gather, evaluate and synthesize data from a variety of sources to communicate discoveries in ways that suit purpose and audience.
Language Arts, Standard 8: Use a variety of technological and information resources to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
Civics, Standard 5: Citizen responsibilities, citizen rights
Technology, Standard 4: Students use telecommunications to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences.
Technology, Standard 5: Uses technology to locate, evaluate and collect information from a variety of sources.
Technology, Standard 6: Uses technology resources for solving problems and making informed decisions; employs technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world.


Additional MaterialResources and suggested reading