Basic Interviewing and Reporting

Connie Martin
Manor High School
Journalism and English Teacher
Manor, Texas

Unit Overview and Rationale

Basic skills are the foundation of journalism. Students will gain confidence in their abilities and they will become more informed citizens and leaders.

Unit Objectives

Through class lecture, discussion, small group activities, students will develop basic skills of writing, interviewing and reporting. They will demonstrate elements of news through writing and use of journalistic format and style. Students will learn where to locate information and sources, and evaluate those sources.

Understanding Goals

  • Essential Questions 
    • What are the 5 Ws and H?
    • What sources are available for my story?
    • How are interview questions generated?
    • How do these become part of the story?
    • What is a direct quote?
    • What is an indirect quote?
  • Critical Engagement Questions
    • What makes a good interview subject?
    • What criteria are used to determine the news value of the interview?
    • What criteria are used to test quotes?


  • Activity 1
    • Students will label the 5Ws and H from clippings in the local paper.  Samples will come from a variety of styles, including news, sports, police crime statistics, feature, and captions.
  • Activity 2
    • Students will be given a list of facts and quotations on slips of paper.  Each student will organize facts and quotations into a story.
  • Activity 3
    • Students will Select a news story from the local paper and label elements in it.  The story must be a minimum of six inches in length.  The elements to be labeled are lead, body, quotation, and transition.
  • Activity 4
    • Students will write an obituary of someone from pop culture.  Names will be drawn from a hat.  Examples will include people from modern history, music, film, and sports.  Research from printed and electronic media will be used to assist students.
  • Activity 5
    • Students will write their own obituary.  Staff will also discuss a publication policy regarding how a student or faculty member’s death will be covered should one occur.


  • Students will be able to draw a graphical representation of the inverted pyramid, labeling the lead, body, quotations, and transitions.
  • Using a daily newspaper, students will cut out news stories and label the lead, body, quotations, and transitions.

Recommend Readings and Sources

  • Associated Press Stylebook.  Eds.  Christopher W. French and Norm Goldstein.  New York:  The Associated Press.
  • Cappon, Rene J.  The Associated Press Guide to News Writing.  3rd Ed. Lawrenceville, NJ:  Peterson’s, 2000.
  • Ferguson, Donald, Jim Patten and Bradley Wilson.  Journalism Today! 5th Ed. Lincolnwood, IL:  National Textbook Company, 1997.
  • Rich, Carole.  Writing and Reporting, A Coaching Method.  3rd.Ed.  Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth Publishing, 2000.
  • Schumacher, Michael.  The Writer’s Complete Guide to Conducting Interviews.  Cincinnati, Ohio:  Writer’s Digest Books, 1993.