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Teaching about journalism

September 13, 2013
Chris Bieri - Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

In what can only be described as a strange turn, I went from editor to teacher this week.

Well, I wasn't exactly a teacher, but I was in a classroom helping explain about some of the tenets of journalism.

To be exact, Julie Mosher's sixth-grade class at Little Flower Elementary.

It was good to be at Little Flower, as I myself was a graduate of Little Flower Elementary in Minot.

Mrs. Mosher had said that her class was doing a unit that involved doing some newspaper-style writing.

A lot of people think that newspapers are dying, if not already dead, but it's good to see that young people are still learning how to communicate and tell stories in a written form.

Maybe 20 years from now, everything will be written in text shorthand, but for now, writing is still the most effective way to communicate with someone whom you aren't looking in the eye.

Mrs. Mosher said the thing the class was having a little trouble with has determining newsworthiness: what is important and will grab and interest readers.

There are some very traditional concepts of newsworthiness like timeliness, proximity and significance.

I asked the class about what most of them had talked about when they returned to school a few short weeks ago. Most of them talked about their summers and what they'd done since the last time they saw each other.

This was a good example of timeliness. People want to know what's new, hence the word news to describe that stuff.

I was impressed that the class knew the word proximity, although they were a little unsure of the definition.

With a paper like the Pierce County Tribune, proximity is probably our biggest tenet. People want to know about what's going on around them, what's happening with friends and acquaintances and people in there area.



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