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Reporting the News: From Daily Journals to Dangerous Duty

By KRISTEN STERNBERG | NIE Educational Consultant

The kidnapping of journalist Daniel Pearl, a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, brought attention to the dangers many reporters face while covering conflicts around the world. In early 2002, Mr. Pearl was abducted by terrorists while on assignment in Pakistan and was subsequently killed.

Claire Metz, Wednesday, September 7, 2005. (Photo: News-Journal/WESH)

Closer to home, a newspaper article published in The Daytona Beach News-Journal informed readers about the fascinating—although sometimes risky—career of a journalist named Jennifer Glasse. In the article, Visiting radio journalist heads right for the hot spots of war, author Mark I. Johnson wrote of Glasse's experiences as a foreign correspondent who has covered major conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Congo, among other areas. What excites Glasse about her career, and what propels her to cover news stories in areas where she may be putting herself at risk? One answer comes from Glasse herself, who stated, "I have a grandstand seat at history…I have covered the best stories in the world."

Without reporters, how would we get our news? Print media (such as newspapers and magazines) and broadcast media (television and radio news corporations) routinely use the services of reporters on assignment all over the world. Despite advances in technology, especially in the area of communications, we still rely upon journalists to travel the globe, seeking out "hot spots" in order to report news.

Not all journalists report on wars or other conflicts. Webster's Dictionary defines journalism as "gathering, writing, editing and publishing or [spreading] news, as through newspaper and magazines or by radio and television." There are about as many kinds of journalism as there are writing styles. For example, some journalists may specialize in travel writing, while others concentrate on investigative reporting. Some reporters are assigned to a "beat," which might be a special topic area—for instance, education issues or crime reporting.

How does one get started on a career in journalism? Aspiring reporters frequently attend college to earn degrees in journalism. They study various kinds of writing and reporting. Journalism students sharpen their interviewing skills and learn to craft stories in many different styles, and delve into topics like ethics in reporting. In addition, students learn how to express their viewpoints effectively in order to persuade readers with their writing or reporting. Follow the link to editor Mark Davis' TV journalist dissects life for an interesting example. There's even a special branch of journalism, called "photojournalism." If you figured out that photojournalists use images, rather than words, to tell stories, give yourself a pat on the back!

News-Journal columnist Drew Murphy urged readers to start keeping their own, day-to-day journals. He related that he was able to remember details about his life that would have been lost if he hadn't kept a journal. Read the full column by following the link to Relive trips in pages of travel journal.

The newspaper articles you've just read were written by journalists living right here in Central Florida. If you enjoyed these pieces of writing, give a quick salute to the journalists who worked to bring these stories to you. Be sure to check out the newspaper activities and web links provided below, too. You'll learn while you have fun exploring the world of journalism—and remember, all journalists, whether on dangerous assignments or at home with their personal diaries, "have a grandstand seat at history" as they record events in the world around them!

Try these interesting activities using The Daytona Beach News-Journal

1. Try your hand at writing a newspaper column. Use The News-Journal to choose a newspaper columnist whose work you enjoy. Clip several of his or her columns. Write a paragraph explaining the reason(s) you admire the columnist's style. Then, try your hand at writing your own column, using that style. Add a title to your column and share your work with friends or family. Do you think you show talent as a newspaper columnist? (Sunshine State Standards LA.A.1.2.1, LA.A.1.2.2, LA.A.1.2.3, LA.A.1.2.4, LA.A.2.2.5, LA.B.2.2.1, LA.B.2.2.3, LA.B.2.2.6)

Motorsports journalist, Chris Economaki works on his trusted typewriter in the infield Media Center at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Friday Feb. 14, 2003. (Photo: News-Journal/Sam Cranston)

2. Journalists typically interview experts on the subjects they're writing about. How do they know the right questions to ask? Choose an interesting article from The News-Journal and read it, taking notes as you read. When you're finished, develop three questions based upon the story. Next, write an answer for each question, using your own words. Ask a family member, teacher, media specialist or librarian to look at your hard work! (Sunshine State Standards LA.A.1.2.1, LA.A.1.2.2, LA.A.1.2.3, LA.A.1.2.4, LA.A.2.2.5, LA.B.2.2.1, LA.B.2.2.3, LA.B.2.2.6)

3. Search The News-Journal's Help Wanted section for jobs in which writing skills are a requirement. Make a list of the different fields in which such skills are necessary. Do you think writing will be important in the career you imagine for yourself? Talk with a nearby adult about some possible career choices. (Sunshine State Standards LA.A.2.2.5, LA.D.2.2.5)

4. Use The News-Journal to find two major conflicts in the news. Locate on a world map where each is taking place. Use reference materials to find basic facts about the nations or regions involved in the conflict. Then, prepare a short report to present to your class or a family member. (Sunshine State Standards LA.A.2.2.5, LA.A.2.2.8, LA.B.2.2.1, LA.B.2.2.3, LA.B.2.2.6, SS.B.1.2.1, SS.B.1.2.5)

5. Start a current events scrapbook. Search The News-Journal routinely to read and clip articles about issues that interest you. Paste each into you scrapbook and add several sentences telling how you feel about the event. From time to time, share with family or friends. (Sunshine State Standards LA.A.1.2.1, LA.A.1.2.2, LA.B.2.2.1, LA.B.2.2.3, LA.B.2.2.6)

6. Check out one of the following books from your library or school media center. They are all about journalists and journalism. After reading, share the book with a friend: "The Landry News" by Andrew Clements; "Getting the Real Story…Nellie Bly & Ida B. Wells" by Sue Davidson; The Get Real Series by Linda Ellerbee, which includes the following titles: "Girl Reporter Blows Lid Off Town", "Girl Reporter Sinks School", "Girl Reporter Stuck in Jam", "Girl Reporter Snags Crush"; "Ghoul Reporter Digs Up Zombies" (Sunshine State Standards LA.E.2.2.5)

A copy of Florida's Sunshine State Standards can be found at

Check out these links to learn more:

At the Write Site, students take on the role of journalists-generating leads, gathering facts and writing stories-using the tools and techniques of real-life journalists. This site is designed especially for middle school students.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists struck our nation by hijacking commercial airlines and using them to destroy the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. The News-Journal's Chief Photographer Jim Tiller went to New York City to view the scene. (Photo: News-Journal/Jim Tiller)

Learn about the fascinating life of Nellie Bly, a journalist with a real sense of adventure! Nellie Bly wrote powerful articles about social issues, although she may be better known for her record-breaking race around the world—in just 72 days!

One of the first photojournalists was Matthew Brady, who photographed important battles, events and people during the Civil War. Find out how the photos from Matthew Brady's collection can tell a moving story without using words.

As reporters facing contempt charges in a number of federal cases around the country, Congress is taking its first serious look at a reporter's shield law in decades. Check out Reporters and Federal Subpoenas

Along with short biographies of some famous writers, at this site you'll find suggestions for how to use your own words to change things!

Check out this list of Pulitzer Prize winners from any year in the timeline and see all the fascinating categories of prizes awarded for literature. Beat reporting, fiction writing and editorial cartooning are just a few.

Check out the journalism sites on the homework helpers page for students at

The Newspaper Association of America's web site contains links to many newspapers in the U.S. Visit the site and check some of them out to see if they have recently published any articles on this topic. To access the newspapers at the site, select a state. Click on the "Internationals" button to view choices from other countries.

Related Articles:

Goodbye: Hinshaw calls it a career
I am leaving The News-Journal after 31 years as a sportswriter, 10 overlapping years as a lifestyle columnist and about that long as a spare-part feature writer who worked on stories for the Metro section and the front page.

All about the color of coverage
Media outlets make the choices about who gets coverage and who doesn’t. They argue that these decisions are more a matter of routine—what is newsworthy — than any inherent biases in the newsroom.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal NIE Program
Published February 25, 2002
Updated September 26, 2005

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