Journalism Unit: Journalism in the Modern Age

Appropriate for: Grades 11-12

Essential Questions

  • How has the way we get our news changed over time?

  • Why does the internet matter in the context of journalism?

  • What is fake news and why does it matter?

  • How can we use technological tools and advancements to produce a better school newspaper?

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand…

  • That news-writing and -making is constantly evolving. The way we get our news is rapidly changing, too.

  • The importance and dangers of technology in the development of journalism culture.

Unit Content and Outcomes

  • Describe, analyze, and draw conclusions about the changes that have taken place in the journalism industry over the past decade.

  • Differentiate between myriad social media platforms — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. — and know how journalists use each in their practice.


Students will be able to…

  • Create and use a number of social media accounts to serve the school newspaper.

  • Describe the changes over time that have led to digital journalism.

  • Form opinions and argue about the state of "fake news" and "post-truth" in modern journalism.

  • Use a number of digital tools and technologies to tell a journalistic stories in multiple ways.

Below are two sample daily lesson plans. I’m happy to share the full unit or year-long plan upon request.

Day 1

Students will be able to:

  • Use Twitter as an entryway into digital media and social media-based journalism.

  • Explain how journalists use Twitter to convey the news and spread information.


Think-pair-share: What social media platform is your favorite and why?

Exploration (laptops):

Look at Twitter feeds online of several major news outlets and organizations silently.

Fill out the attached form to guide the analysis of Twitter accounts.

Small Group Discussion:

In groups of four, discuss:

  • How often do they post?

  • Of their last 10 posts, which is most compelling and why?

  • What is the general format of the posts?

  • What conclusions can you draw about the functionality of Twitter?

Share out to the larger class.

Class Discussion:

  • When we are composing Tweets for our own Twitter feed, what should we use? Why?

  • How often should we post? How can we ensure that happens?

  • What are the purposes of the news organizations’ feeds outside of driving traffic to their sites?


  • Write 5 Twitter posts for the school newspaper’s account.

  • Find 15 relevant accounts for the DoubleSpace to follow.

Day 2

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the changes over time in the way news is created and consumed.

  • Create a diverse news package that integrates a variety of methods to portray a single topic or idea.


  • Print-outs of article

  • Pencil or writing utensil

  • Poster-making supplies or some other visual medium

Think-pair-share: How do you get your news? How much news should one consume in order to be an engaged citizen?


Silent Reading: “Content and Its Discontents” by Virginia Hefferman, New York Times, 2008.


  • This article is more than ten years old. How has the landscape changed?

  • Does it match Ms. Hefferman’s predictions?

  • What is most compelling about these predictions? Why do you think she got some things wrong?

  • What is the purpose of a news “package” in modern journalism? How can we use multiple formats to create different outputs?


  • Whole class brainstorms a list of evergreen topics — or topics that can be published any time because they don’t necessarily have a current news peg.

  • Groups of two choose one of the topics and come up with as many ways of presenting that topic as possible. There should be a visual element for each idea.

  • Students present their visual ideas, and the classes chooses one to develop for the school newspaper.


CCSS: Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects 6-12

CCSS: Grades 11-12

Capacities of the Literate Individual

Students Who are College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, & Language

They demonstrate independence.

They build strong content knowledge.

They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.

They comprehend as well as critique.

They value evidence.

They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.

They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.

Reading: History/Social Studies

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

RH.11-12.7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

RH.11-12.9. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.


Production and Distribution of Writing
4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

WHST.11-12.4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

WHST.11-12.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.