Media Literacy 102

Deconstructing the News Wrap

A large part of news production is deciding what bits of information should go into your reports.  Those who report, edit and produce the news decide what is important and what is not important, what should be included and what should be left out.  That job is now becoming yours and it will be your job to figure out what will make your audio segments if not objective (because I don’t believe that’s possible) fair and balanced.  In this lesson, students will deconstruct a news wrap in an effort to decipher how reporters decide what is news worthy and what is not.


  • Students will think about the process of news production and its implications.

Materials Needed


Students should read through the news wrap Advocates, economists push for veteran trust fund to cover ‘real cost’ of war.  It has been broken down into its constituent parts:  lead, intro to actuality, actuality, conclusion, etc.  Notice how the first paragraph of the news wrap includes the who, what, when and where of the story.  It also states two facts that came out during the hearing: the number of wounded vets is rising and returning vets have a hard time accessing the resources they need.  If this were a school paper, those facts would serve as a thesis statement that might go something like, “the true cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an increasing number of wounded American soldiers who are not properly cared for once they return home.”

No doubt, there were other facts that came out during the hearing.  The economists who testified may have talked about the benefits the government bestowed on veterans after WWII as compared to the relatively limited rewards for service that vets can expect today.  Congressmen on the committee may have given their reasons for supporting or not supporting a veteran trust fund. The reporter did not choose those clips (if in fact they did exist) because they did not support the point that she or he wanted to make in his or her news wrap.   The actuality that the reporter chooses is that which best supports the reporter’s thesis.  In writing the lead and choosing the actuality, the reporter decides the focus of the story.

Go to the Free Speech Radio News website and listen to other news wrap examples. Have students choose a story that appeals to them, download the transcript and break it down into it’s constituent parts–lead, actuality, conclusion, etc..   Then answer the following questions:

What is the who, what, where and when of the story?

What facts were included in the lead that will be illustrated later in the actuality?

What point is the reporter trying to make that the listener will remember after the story is over?

What information do you imagine the reporter might have left out?