To make comparisons, students must first become familiar with their local newspapers. Because students have available print, electronic-editions (e-Editions or E-Papers) and/or Web versions, ask them to start by examining all editions, print, electronic and/or Web versions, of their local newspaper that they have available. They may also examine tweets, apps and other approaches that local newspapers use to distribute their content on a specific day. A newspaper’s electronic or replica edition often includes links that provide easy access to newspapers owned by the same company.
Provide questions or activity sheets about the area where students live that require close reading of their local newspaper on one or more days. Looking at the Community is an activity sheet for students to use with their area newspaper and then with a newspaper that serves another area. Obtaining information from both their local and another newspaper enables them to compare two communities.
Before making in-depth comparisons, have students learn more about the areas served by their newspaper and one or more different newspapers. The activity sheet Comparing Newspapers; Newspaper Profiles asks them to record background information about the newspapers and the areas where they publish.
Comparing newspapers published on a specific or “targeted” date, such as Memorial Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Labor Day, the day after an election or other significant event turns the activity into “Target Dating.” When a storm or other disaster strikes, check the Newseum website. Front pages of newspapers published in the area will dramatize what happened and allow young readers to see how the events look to those most affected by what happened and compare coverage in the place where an event took place with coverage in their newspapers.
Consider providing a set of questions such as the following:
1. How is the newspaper organized? Is it similar or different from the local newspaper?
2. What issues and problems does the newspaper cover?
3. What are the three most common types of jobs advertised in the Classified section? Mentioned in the news stories?
4. What is the range or average cost for buying three or four bedroom homes? For renting two and three bedroom apartments? How do these compare to costs in your local community?
5. What businesses advertise in the newspaper? Are they similar to businesses that serve your own community?
6. What types of entertainment are available? At what costs?
7. Does the sports section local sports teams? What college and professional teams receive the most prominent coverage?
8. Does the area have historic places or museums?
The NC Press Association links to websites offered by NC newspapers and enable users to tour the state through its newspapers. Newspapers vary in their publishing of content on their websites; some use paywalls that allow reading of some but not all content on a site. Visit www.ncpress.com and click on “READ a NEWSPAPER” for a listing of NC newspapers and their websites. Other press associations will provide links to websites operated by newspapers served by the state associations.
Newseum offers front pages from around the state, nation and world each day. Map shows the location of newspapers published on the site in different areas of the world. Yellow dots on NC show where the newspapers are based. Sort Papers by Region allows users to choose an area of the nation or world and identify newspapers that have sent in front pages. Some will be published in native languages; others in English. Raise questions: What can you learn from examining a newspaper’s front page? Its photos and illustrations? Its front page news coverage?
Exploring Online Newspapers: NC Press Association and Newseum
Turning a News Story to Newscast: A collaboration that requires students to read, write, speak, listen and learn
Venn diagrams and comparison/ contrast strategies allow students to record likenesses and differences between their hometown newspaper and one or more other newspapers. The educational website, READWRITETHINK.org includes the following: