You are on page 1of 12

Augustin de Trogoff Making a Newspaper 3850 Words Pechersk School International 2012

Table of Contents

The Goal

Page 3

Selection of Sources

Page 4

Application of Information

Page 7

Achieving the Goal

Page 8

Reflection on Learning

Page 9


Page 10


Page 10

The Goal The personal project marks the culminating point of the MYP program; it is designed to challenge the student in many different ways and to initiate them to the idea of learning through different methods and perspectives. You basically choose what you'd like to do, investigate and research tour chosen topic and produce something related to your topic. It can be anything at all, all that matters is that the student demonstrates interest, for it to be reasonably challenging, and above all that the student demonstrates sufficient self-motivation and hard work to document all the different processes and problems they use and overcome in their journey. I chose to make a newspaper because I enjoy writing in general, and it was one of the first things that I thought of doing; I enjoyed the notion that I would be the one doing the writing in order to broaden other peoples horizons, that I would get a taste of what it was like to be a journalist. My initial aim was to create a newspaper of about 4-12 pages, with about 10-15 articles, allowing for length and topic. It was to be orientated at world news, with some miscellaneous pieces (history, sports, critics...) and other features asides. Each piece was to be about 100-1500 words long, complete with pictures. The newspaper was to be compiled on an online template, designed to format every piece into suitable columns and adapt the works to spread-size, 578mm by 380mm paper. The whole project was axed around an Area Of Interaction (AOI). This provided a perspective from which to approach my work and reflect and evaluate the product. I chose human ingenuity as my AOI. This means I looked at the purpose and the thinking processes behind a newspaper. Human ingenuity deals with the WHYs and WHEREFOREs: what humans create and how it affects the world around us. I thought it was best adapted to my chosen subject because writing in general, and news more specifically, has impacted our society in such a monumental way that they have become an integral part of any system in our culture. News and the media act as a giant mirror in which humanity looks at itself and reflects on the events around the world; they provide a telescope for any curious human being, and work towards making the world a little smaller every day. Thus, human ingenuity, with its focus on how inventions impact our lives, provided the perfect setting for the project. Additionally, the whole reflection facet of human ingenuity comes into play a whole lot in the media; journalists make a living of broadcasting events and thinking upon their consequences on society and humanity as a whole. We may go even deeper: the fact that journalists report and reflect on world events influences our decisions more than the actual event. That is how important the media is, that is the magnitude of the impact it has made in our lives, and that is the reason why human ingenuity was my chosen focus for my project. 3

The criteria I designed, although already roughly outlined above, proved slightly challenging to produce; as mine was such a broad subject, my criteria choices influenced my newspaper in such a way that the decisions were, quite simply, irrevocable. As such, I decided to compromise and introduce criteria combining broad and specific specifications. Here they are:

y y y

The product in its whole will be a printed newspaper, 578mm x 380mm spread size paper, consisting of 10-15 articles, complete with photographs, and arranged in correct journalism formatting, i.e. columns. The media used will be a word processor and an online template: the devices that will be used to produce the final product will be computers and a professional printing press. The articles will consist of world news, with some miscellaneous pieces (history, sports, critics...). The pieces will be about 100-1500 words long. The paper will be directed at any literate English speaker. Age, culture, origin, sex and interests are not to be taken into account, as the articles will consist of a selection of international news and opinion pieces covering a variety of subjects.

While they may appear to give too broad a margin, the specifications fitted well with my chosen AOI; they allowed for the whole context of Human Ingenuity to be explored, and indicated a wide spectrum of subjects may be investigated. They posed some specific challenges, such as printing and correctly formatting my newspaper, but left some room for decision-making and adjustments with a couple of broader specifications. This meant critical judgment and decision-making were crucial to the project and to the reflection process, because the criteria needed to be interpreted correctly to make sure the evaluation and reflection process was valid.

Selection of Sources This section of the process was the trickiest and most painstaking one for me. This is because my chosen subject encompassed so many possible topics and sub-topics that decisions needed to be made before the main part of the research could be completed. Of course, the initial specifications I had completed were helpful, but the bulk of the content material still had to be settled upon. There were two types of information I was looking for in my research: firstly, information on how to format a newspaper, how and where to print it, how to write the different types of pieces, and other such formatting and building processes. Secondly, information on the news and events I was going to talk about. The first type of information was easily researched and processes, but the second type proved more problematic to fully complete. This was because the news needed to be relatively fresh in order for the paper to be interesting. Thus, the second type of research was done over a longer period of time, on-the-go, making use of such features as twitter, youtube and facebook to obtain the latest news and information. To compensate for this lack of specific, usable information, I compiled seven analyses of the types of sources that I used, in order to determine the 4

best ones and to evaluate them against a set of given criteria, shown below: y y y How useful and relevant, from the perspective of a journalist, is the information offered by this type of source? How fresh is the news and information offered on this type of source? In general, how reliable is this type of source? Is objective and factual?

Type 1-Blogs A variant of news sites, blogs offered even smaller newsreels and more concise information. They were useful for small, weekly columns where not much detail as opinion was needed, and where the freshest news was required. Many famous reporters and journalists hold blogs, often on their employer's sites. Twitter and Facebook can be included in this category, as they are widely used by columnists to give news alerts and flashes. The reliability of these sources was slightly doubtful. The main things to keep in mind were the sources the columnists themselves obtained their information from, and the subjects being dealt with, because these were more likely to be neutral and un-biased. Most of the tweets and updates, however, were too concise and short to be biased. The main issue was that sometimes, in their haste to be the first to deliver the news, bloggers, tweeters and the like did not take the time to verify the information and ended up posting misinformation and 'false alerts'. Examples included Larry King (news twitter), the New York Times (Facebook and twitter) and Topix (blog). Type 2-Interviews This type was extremely useful, in much the same way as books are: professional insight and advice on the job. This source was perhaps not as useful where content and information are concerned, but the advice proffered was useful when thinking of technique and process. When interviews concerned matters such as history, politics and science, that is, non-reporting types of journalism, then the information itself was useful. Most news sites and papers offered a wide variety of interviews, both video and on paper. When evaluating interviews, we thought of the interviewee's credentials, their area(s) of expertise, and the date of the interview (for subjects such as science or politics). To be disassociated from questionnaires... Type 3-Other Media: TV, Radio, and Documentaries These resources were difficult to cite precisely; therefore, they were a lot more useful as background research sources than subject-specific sources. For my project idea, they were useful when utilized frequently; a proper reporter should keep himself well informed. The evaluation of this type of source was much the same as news websites; the raw data and news presented (in the case of TV and radio) is too "fresh" to be heavily biased (with certain exceptions) and the information is too simple to be twisted to the media's interests. Documentaries, on the other hand, were more liable to

be biased, so one should always check its credentials before using the video as a resource. Type 4-YouTube This resource was great for tutorials, visual guidelines, and interviews (see number 2). The information I found on Youtube ranged from vlogs (vsauce, RayWilliamJohnson) to tutorials (HowTo, YogCast). While it constitutes a small part of my research, it still counts and represents a significant portion of my printing processes research. The reliability of YouTube was difficult to evaluate, but most good vloggers (contraption of the words video and blog, indicating a filmed blog) keep a bibliography of their sources either in their videos or in the descriptions. It is a very good way of obtaining subject-specific information quickly and easily, due to its visual and audio format, and therefore used widely by the public. Type 5-Websites This vast resource we call the Internet was to be my primary source of information regarding anything form translations to spellings, passing through definitions and facts. It is a very versatile resource, both in content and reliability, because while it holds trillions upon trillions of bytes of information, anyone can upload anything anywhere on the web. That is why one must keep careful track of sources and sites, and verify the domain's full credentials before using its contents. Furthermore, the internet holds many different types of media. This made it useful when considering diversity of sources and variety of content in research. Web pages containing news are, in particular, useful For example, the BBC's website, CBS's website, or CNN's website were invaluable sources of news and opinion. They were also more reliable than newspapers, since their news is fresh and direct as opposed to treated to fit the format and tone of an article. This is why I used this source throughout my research. Type 6-Newspapers As we got into specific research, that is, subject-related information regarding the articles we planned to write, examples of what one is trying to make are always useful. As artists get inspiration from other artists' work, so I learned from other newspapers. I looked for a range of things, such as style, form, and tone of the different types of articles, as well as how truly facts were presented. This was to be decisive in my process more than anything else; what better way to do something than the professional way? Apart form the above, newspapers also served as a source for factual knowledge on different types of stories. This could be considered plagiarism; so careful treading was required when using articles and other pieces to construct one of my own. Either I used old, outdated pieces for opinionated articles or I followed the journal's sources and use those instead. This gave me precious insight on the processes through which news companies obtain their information. Newspapers are to be treated with caution, as many, if not all, use only information that will support the cause of their articles or pieces and leave out or ignore the rest.

Additionally, political newspapers are be heavily biased according to their views and standings. This is why it was more useful to follow the source of information of an article and deal with the raw facts and data then with the embellished prose of argumentative pieces. A good example (among others) was the NY Times, both the website and the hard copy. I found that they differ in content and reliability, the website being less opinionated than the paper. Specific magazines such as Science and National Geographic are excellent sources for specific articles. In the case of NG, the TV channel is also a great resource (see analysis 3) Type 7: Books Books were an excellent research tool for background knowledge on the subjects I wrote about. They provided in-depth studies and factual information, as well as valuable references to further conduct research. Subjects such as history and politics are widely treated and commonly found in books, which means cross-referencing is easy. On the reliability of these sources, it is reasonable to say these are the most reliable fountains of critical and factual information available to the research unit, because of the research carried out by the author(s) themselves. Furthermore, a work of such magnitude as a book is never allowed on the market unless it has been proofread and verified many times over. Similarly, and in my particular case, books on journalism are often written by reporters and journalists. This means the material considered is written for and by professionals. A specific case that I used for concise information on formatting and printing is the book Journalism for Beginners by Joan Clayton. This book targets young authors and people thinking to get into journalism. It deals more with the publishing world than with writing and technique, so I took into account the publishing date and country of publication when reading it as the information contained was likely to be case and time specific. It was still a valuable source.

Application of Information Upon completing the first part of my research (if you recall, this was the part where I investigated formatting and structure) I made several decisions. First of all, I decided to use, better than a full-fledged, professional formatting program such as Photoshop, an online template provided by the same company with whom I was going to print my paper. I reached this decision after realizing that, if I wanted my product to look professional and well formatted, I was going to have to spend more time learning how to use Photoshop than actually writing content. This decision was a very important step, for it gave me the necessary focus and purpose to start seriously researching my article subjects. Furthermore, I saw the advantages of using the online template, which is basically a model in which you stick your content and images and it formats automatically, were more numerous. The template (Arthr)

was free, accessible at any time and above all easy to use, which meant I had more time to work on producing good content for my pieces. Furthermore, my newspaper did not involve very fancy designs that would need more professional programs to incorporate, which meant there was not much difference between Photoshop and the template, all things considered. Secondly, I decided to print twenty copies of my newspaper. I had decided earlier on that cost was to be kept minimal, but after some probing online I found that the prices were relatively low compared to most other companies offering the same services. This meant good value for money and placated supervisors. Furthermore, I thought it was an excellent way toi thank people for their help; lastly, my exhibition idea required around ten newspapers. I did the math, and settled on twenty as a good number. Lastly, I settled upon having no title for my paper. This was quite a hard decision to make, but after many different tests and suggestions, even a few randomly generated ones, I thought that my paper might as well have no title at all. In my research, I read of a newspaper, similar to mine, published in France every year by a group of intellectuals that summarized the major events of the year in original and entertaining articles, covering just about every possible topic. Each year, they feature a different artists work on their cover; their paper has no name, because they do not consider the name to be of any importance, but rather that the content is too broad and sweeping to be defined by just one title name. This convinced me that a name was unnecessary. It also convinced me to design and paint a front cover myself, although by that time my specifications were set, so I considered it a bonus goal. To complement my secondary research (i.e. the content research), I decided to use part of the school curriculum knowledge, both to intertwine more AOIs into my project and to widen the scope of my articles. Thus, I wrote a piece dealing with genocidal laws in France, a subject we covered in History class this year. In so doing, I simultaneously deepened my knowledge of the subject and expressed in my article some of the ideas and views we discussed in class. This decision proved a fruitful one, as this piece was one of the best-received among my family and advisors. The information I gathered to write my pieces led me to decide that I would write three big opinion pieces on big social, cultural and political issues, and a set of smaller pieces on various other things. While this meant my newspaper would be slightly shorter than I originally intended it to, it also let me put more effort into writing my pieces. Thus, I was able to fully develop my views and make an interesting piece out of old news. In doing so, my paper gained interest for the reader; therefore, it is a justifiable decision. That sums up the main decisions I made after my research was done.

Achieving the Goal One of the main challenges of my project was to choose topics that, at the exhibition of the finished products, would not look outdated. There was one simple way to get around this: to use more opinion than factual accounts in the articles. For example, if I

were to write something on the floods in Thailand, I would mostly write about how natural disasters have been increasing over the last years, and how they could be avoided, rather than report in detail on the Thai floods. Overall, I must say that this turned out like I intended it to: my product covered big news and commented on them in such a way that they would still be relevant and interesting come the exposition some months later. My final newspaper, if checked against the specifications, reached decent standards. Below are the criteria, with short comments on the achievements for each: y The product in its whole will be a printed newspaper, 578mm x 380mm spread size paper, consisting of 10-15 articles, complete with photographs, and arranged in correct journalism formatting, i.e. columns.-This criterion was met to a reasonable extent. While I did not have ten full articles, I had the required number of pieces, correctly formatted according to the eternal column system, complete with photos and printed. The media used will be a word processor and an online template: the devices that will be used to produce the final product will be computers and a professional printing press.- This criterion was met to the fullest. The articles will consist of world news, with some miscellaneous pieces (history, sports, critics...).- This specification was also fully completed. The pieces will be about 100-1500 words long.-Again, fully met. The paper will be directed at any literate English speaker. Age, culture, origin, sex and interests are not to be taken into account, as the articles will consist of a selection of international news and opinion pieces covering a variety of subjects.- This criterion is rather hard to judge, but considering I asked people from 5 different nationalities, different ages, cultures and gender, and the feedback was almost all positive, I believe it was a success.

y y

Overall, I believe my essay was a success.

Reflection on learning Upon landing in the IB system, I was introduced to the concept of the personal project. It all seemed quite vague and pointless at the start; the whole idea of having freedom of choice for subject material was totally alien to me. Over time, however, as I advanced in my research and built up my understanding of the project, I realized the unique opportunities and perspectives it offered. The liberty and independence that were granted to me was motivating in such a way that I felt inspired to make something memorable. It felt immensely satisfying to produce something, alone, and to come to terms with the fact that is was really quite impressive. Not only had I done something, alone, and with no particular incentive other than the interest and enthusiasm I felt for my work, but on top of that it was a perfectly decent piece, well in line with what I had imagined. I learned many new ideas and concepts while doing this project. Sitting in behind the 9

journalists desk was an unbelievable experience, which made me want to continue writing articles as a hobby. From being passably interested in expressing myself through writing, I have become an enthusiastic amateur reporter. This journey has made me want to try out other forms of writing, such as novel or novella writing and essay-writing. Furthermore, it has given me a desire to collaborate with a real newspaper, as a contributor on different subjects. The Kyiv Post recently published an advert in which it asked for English-speaking (and writing) people to contribute to their paper. I was interested in this possibility, but I thought that first I needed to practice my writing skills. I believe I have found a solution: I am going to create a blog, on which I will post articles and trivia from time to time to keep my skills polished. From there, possibilities are available in any direction, but that is something for me to determine at a later date. Over the course of the project, I acquired a set of skills and knowledge that are sure to prove useful in the future. Chief among these is the firm resolution not to trust any source without prior confirmation of its validity. This was learned after a few sources I used turned out to be flukes; I lost about three hours of work there and then. Another skill I feel I have honed is my ability to think of the world as a whole, and to reflect on the causes and consequences as affecting every single component of the gear system that forms our society. This type of mindset gives the perfect outlook on anything: broad yet penetrating, seeing to understand, to know. If there is one thing I have understood, its that we will never know enough. Human curiosity drives us; without it, we are but bland shells without purpose or life. Stick to your beliefs, defend your position, and above all be curious: these are the lessons I have learned.

Bibliography Joan Clayton (2000). Journalism for Beginners: How to Get into Print and Get Paid for it. London/GB: Little, Brown Book Group.

Appendices 1 Writing an Editorial Another Tutorial by: Alan Weintraut Annandale High School Annandale, VA 22312 CHARACTERISTICS OF EDITORIAL WRITING An editorial is an article that presents the newspaper's opinion on an issue. It reflects the majority vote of the editorial board, the governing body of the newspaper made up of editors and business managers. It is usually unsigned. Much in the same manner of a lawyer, editorial writers build on an argument and try to persuade readers to think the same way they do. Editorials are meant to influence public opinion, promote


critical thinking, and sometimes cause people to take action on an issue. In essence, an editorial is an opinionated news story. Editorials have: 1. Introduction, body and conclusion like other news stories 2. An objective explanation of the issue, especially complex issues 3. A timely news angle 4. Opinions from the opposing viewpoint that refute directly the same issues the writer addresses 5. The opinions of the writer delivered in a professional manner. Good editorials engage issues, not personalities and refrain from name-calling or other petty tactics of persuasion. 6. Alternative solutions to the problem or issue being criticized. Anyone can gripe about a problem, but a good editorial should take a pro-active approach to making the situation better by using constructive criticism and giving solutions. 7. A solid and concise conclusion that powerfully summarizes the writer's opinion. Give it some punch. Four Types of Editorials Will: 1. Explain or interpret: Editors often use these editorials to explain the way the newspaper covered a sensitive or controversial subject. School newspapers may explain new school rules or a particular student-body effort like a food drive. 2. Criticize: These editorials constructively criticize actions, decisions or situations while providing solutions to the problem identified. Immediate purpose is to get readers to see the problem, not the solution. 3. Persuade: Editorials of persuasion aim to immediately see the solution, not the problem. From the first paragraph, readers will be encouraged to take a specific, positive action. Political endorsements are good examples of editorials of persuasion. 4. Praise: These editorials commend people and organizations for something done well. They are not as common as the other three. Writing an Editorial 1. Pick a significant topic that has a current news angle and would interest readers. 2. Collect information and facts; include objective reporting; do research 3. State your opinion briefly in the fashion of a thesis statement 4. Explain the issue objectively as a reporter would and tell why this situation is important 5. Give opposing viewpoint first with its quotations and facts 6. Refute (reject) the other side and develop your case using facts, details, figures, quotations. Pick apart the other side's logic. 7. Concede a point of the opposition they must have some good points you can acknowledge that would make you look rational. 8. Repeat key phrases to reinforce an idea into the reader's minds. 9. Give a realistic solution(s) to the problem that goes beyond common knowledge. Encourage critical thinking and pro-active reaction. 10. Wrap it up in a concluding punch that restates your opening remark (thesis statement). 11. Keep it to 500 words; make every work count; never use "I" A Sample Structure


I. Lead with an Objective Explanation of the Issue/Controversy. Include the five W's and the H. (Members of Congress, in effort to reduce the budget, are looking to cut funding from public television. Hearings were held ) 1. Pull in facts and quotations from the sources which are relevant. 2. Additional research may be necessary. II. Present Your Opposition First. As the writer you disagree with these viewpoints. Identify the people (specifically who oppose you. (Republicans feel that these cuts are necessary; other cable stations can pick them; only the rich watch public television.) Use facts and quotations to state objectively their opinions. Give a strong position of the opposition. You gain nothing in refuting a weak position. III. Directly Refute The Opposition's Beliefs. You can begin your article with transition. (Republicans believe public televison is a "sandbox for the rich." However, statistics show most people who watch public television make less than $40,000 per year.) Pull in other facts and quotations from people who support your position. Concede a valid point of the opposition which will make you appear rational, one who has considered all the options (fiscal times are tough, and we can cut some of the funding for the arts; however, ). IV. Give Other, Original Reasons/Analogies In defense of your position, give reasons from strong to strongest order. (Taking money away from public television is robbing children of their education ) Use a literary or cultural allusion that lends to your credibility and perceived intelligence (We should render unto Caesar that which belongs to him ) V. Conclude With Some Punch. Give solutions to the problem or challenge the reader to be informed. (Congress should look to where real wastes exist perhaps in defense and entitlements to find ways to save money. Digging into public television's pocket hurts us all.) A quotation can be effective, especially if from a respected source A rhetorical question can be an effective concluder as well (If the government doesn't defend the interests of children, who will?)