Building our toolkit
The Media are an important part of our daily life. They entertain and inform, as well as conveying a particular image of our world which might sometimes be confusing, misleading or even frightening. We believe that preparing students to read and interpret news reports will help them better understand the times we live in – and what is better than learning by producing our own reports? Besides, being part of such an active and enriching community as St Andrew’s presents the perfect microcosm to explore and learn first hand.
Writing provides a significant opportunity not only to organise thoughts and express oneself, but also to understand the way something works. With these goals in mind, Y8 students first needed experience in real news reports. A fifteen-minute “Media Browsing” slot at the beginning of every lesson gave them the space to explore various news sites and different types of articles, keeping a record of their observations in a “News Log”. These entries and observations, as well as vocabulary learnt through the articles, were shared in class once a week to collaboratively expand class knowledge.
Students also worked both with print newspapers and online news sites to identify and categorise the linguistic and technical features and conventions specific to each text type. It was a good opportunity to understand how these are all mechanisms to produce intentional effects, and try their hand at them in groups or pairs.
With our prospective reporters having gained enough experience of the texts, it was time for the official launch of the project and the first contact with the real world of the Media.
Visit from an Expert: Talk by Fernando Massa, Reporter and Editor of the Society Section in La Nación
In order to launch our project and at the same time root it firmly within a realistic frame that would encourage meaningful learning, we invited a reporter and Editor from Diario La Nación to share with us his real-world experience of being part of the Media. Mr Massa offered an honest and very engaging account of his passion for writing and how he found an excellent expression of this passion in reporting. We learnt that the first question a reporter asks himself or herself when considering a possible article is what potential the story might have to change or influence reality. Mr Massa also showed us the different effects conveyed through the various possible angles adopted in the news, and made a special point of emphasising the importance of presentation and accurate language use in the reports and articles. He commented on the involvement of the reader in online sites and how news companies and reporters nowadays mostly rely on social media for the publication of their news. Finally, he also described a typical day in the life of a reporter, the techniques used for the collection of data, information and sources, and the basic organisation of an editorial department. His presentation was followed by a round of very interesting questions raised by the students.
Our students’ unedited comments bear witness to the success of the experience:
“I really liked his visit because I learnt more about journalism. The part I liked most was the part where he told us a story about a family and how the news helped them get a home.” Julia Bunge
“The tips he gave us were good, some of them we already knew about but still. I think it was nice of him to come and talk to us, a bunch of kids about his job. The way he talked about his job made it clear that he really enjoys it and he explained most of the stuff we asked questions about. I don’t really think I will ever have the opportunity to talk to a good news reporter, so I’m sure I’ll remember the experience.” Agustina Ceballos
“The visit of Fernando Massa was really interesting because I liked how he told us how they work and It caught my attention how they separated the work: one writes,the second correct,the third edits and it go on. Also they work so much that sometimes they stay until 12 to work!!” Francisco DelRio
“The visit of Fernando Massa was very usefull for me because, he explained the inverted pyramid, and explained why the most important information goes at the begining of the article.” Denise Esteves
“I think it was a great talk because Fernando was very into the topic and learning from a journalist was a very important for it. I was most caught by the moment when he explained what happened with the “Messi se va de la seleccion” piece of news, they introduced a photo that actually was a meme. That made me learn that the final revision is very important.” Maximo Lob
“Fernando Massa was a fun and nice person. He talked in a way that we could understand even though he did use high vocabulary. It was interesting to learn about how reporters work and how the company is organized. What really caught my attention was the ammount of effort and work they put into every single article and how important it was to them to not have any mistake in the news papers. It was very exiting to learn about Fernando’s experiance and his mistakes which were pretty funny. In conclusion, I really enjoyed his visit and would love to have more reporters like him visit.” Josefina Pinto
“I found the talk very interesting, I think almost everything he said was important. I could perfectly understand and take notes about what he was talking. The aspect that most cought my attention was how everything had to be perfectly organized, there couldn’t be a single mistake. I realized that it took a great ammount of effort to be a news reporter. I would really like another reporter to come to talk about his or her reporter experience.” Luca Seggiaro
“The aspects that mostly caught my attention were the Inverted Pyramid and also the process from the byline to the newspaper. Also how they chose what topic or Section they chose and how they were very active all day to write news about something.” Maximiliano Vera Feld
“The talk he gave us was very interesting and it was elementary to understand about the real world of the news but with a behind-the-scene angle. I learnt more about the process of writing news pieces. I think it is a very good event that should be repeated next year for future eights.” Nicolas Wolodarsky
We are now ready to try our hands at creating our own news site!!