Writing Prompt: Tabloid Reporting

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This post includes a fun, creative approach to an expository/journalism paper. This is a popular assignment in WriteAtHome‘s introductory high school course, Composition 1.

Most of us have read at least the covers of the newspaper tabloids that typically appear near the checkout counters of grocery stores. You know the ones we mean — they look like newspapers, but carry fantastic and nutty stories about space aliens and imaginative scientific discoveries. Maybe you’ve chuckled at the ridiculous headlines that often appear:  “Mother Gives Birth to Gorilla Baby!” “Elvis Makes Regular Visits to Orlando Retirement Community!”

Your assignment this week is to write a “news story”. You are obviously free to make up any “facts.” Make it as ridiculous as you’d like, but make every attempt to write clearly and informatively.

Tip One: This is not a journalism class, but an important feature of most news articles (even make-believe stories) is to include the most important facts in summary form in the first paragraph. The idea is to give the essentials early in the article so that readers who are merely skimming can get the basic facts in a paragraph or two. From there, the information generally becomes less important. Try to imitate this style as you write.

Tip Two: Even though we refer to this as a news “story,” this assignment is not to write a narrative. This is a news article, which means the primary purpose is to provide information, not to entertain with an interesting tale. Start with the most important facts, not necessarily the first thing that happened. One difference between a news article and a short story is that a story is organized chronologically (by time), and an article by order of importance. If you’re not sure what we mean, pick up any newspaper (not necessarily a tabloid), and read several front page items. Notice that they do more explaining than story-telling.

You may choose from one of the following, or  come up with a tabloid story on your own :

  • Aliens Abduct High School Student!
  • High  School Student Devoured by Giant Hamster!
  • High School Student Writes Great American Novel…On 3 X 5 Note Card!
  • High School Student Performs Successful Brain Transplant on Sister! (or brother)
  • High School Student Trains Poodle to Take Algebra Exam!
  • High School Student Saves the Planet from Collision with Meteor!
  • Amazing High School Student Keeps Room Neat for Six Months!

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

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