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Write a News Story
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Grade level: 6–8

Imagine you are a young reporter covering the national news of the 1920s and '30s. You've just been assigned to a breaking story about a female pilot, Amelia Earhart. It's your job to tell readers nationwide everything they need to know.

Choose any event in Earhart's life — from her first record-breaking flight of 1922 to her final flight around the world. Depending on which event you choose, Earhart may be an outspoken college student, a relatively unknown pilot, or a national celebrity. As you're writing your news account, think about how this particular event influenced or was affected by other events of the time.

Develop your story as a newspaper article or a radio broadcast. (Radio became an important part of American life in the 1920s.) Before you start writing, it may help to check out some examples of how the news is covered. You could

  • listen to a news story on the radio;
  • read your local or national paper;
  • check out articles from a newspaper Web site, such as The Washington Post or USA Today.

Although every source reports the news differently, you will usually find there are basic elements common to all valid news stories. For example, every story should answer the critical five W's and an H about the event: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

To write your news story:

  1. Read the Life and Times time line to learn about Amelia Earhart and the major events taking place in the United States during her lifetime.

  2. Choose one newsworthy event in Earhart's life that interests you. Be sure to record all the specific information you can find about the event — for example, the exact date and time, place, and circumstances.

  3. Think about historical events and social changes taking place in the United States during Earhart's life. How do you think people then would have reacted to the event? You may want to consult the interview with Sylvia Barter, a woman who became a pilot during this period in history. Or ask a grandparent or neighbor who remembers Earhart's accomplishments. How would people today react differently to the same event?

  4. Using your notes, write a short news article or radio announcement about the event in Earhart's life. Remember, the information in your account should be historically accurate and objective. However, you may wish to include fictional quotes or interviews to show how Americans reacted to Amelia Earhart's actions.

  5. From March 17–April 30, 1997, Scholastic conducted a "News Story" contest. Students from all over the U.S. submitted news stories. Read the news accounts from our contest winners. How are they similar to yours? How are they different?

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