How to write and produce newspaper genres

TOM ROMANO has published numerous bestselling books including Crafting Authentic Voice; Blending Genre, Altering Style; Zigzag; and Writing with Passion.

He has been teaching for 45 years: 17 years as a high school teacher and 28 years as a college professor. Romano earned his bachelor’s and master’s in Education at Miami University and his PhD at the University of New Hampshire.

His classroom routine lists two non-negotiables: he reads a poem at the beginning of every class meeting, and students in his class will write in different genres, not only expository essays.

In his book Blending Genre and Altering Style, Romano says: “A multigenre paper arises from research, experience, and imagination. It is not an uninterrupted, expository monologue nor a seamless narrative nor a collection of poems.

“A multigenre paper is composed of many genres and subgenres, each piece self-contained, making a point of its own, yet connected by theme or topic and sometimes by language, images, and content.

“In addition to many genres, a multigenre paper may also contain many voices, not just the author’s. The trick is to make such a paper hang together.”

When given a choice, most students will opt for a multigenre paper because they feel that it is less difficult. What these students don’t realise is that more critical thinking is involved in this process than the traditional paper.

With multigenre research, students must come up with an application format that they themselves create for use with their information. Students must also make extensive use of technology and have a solid knowledge base in different writing formats.

For example, if a student or the class were producing a multigenre newspaper for Dear Mr Kilmer by Anne Schraff, the newspaper published might include (but is not limited to) these genres: hard news articles on the ravages of World War 1, display ads for fashions and/or products from that time period, obituaries for the soldiers who perished in the war, unity projects to crush out discrimination and an advice column for loved ones who have lost fathers, sons and brothers in the war.

Multigenre writing has become one of the most productive approaches teachers can use to help students write creative, informational research reports.

This guide, which features Lesson 13 and 14 this week, will help teachers succeed in that effort.

Creating a multigenre Letter to the Editor

A Letter to the Editor is one of the few ways in which a citizen is able to express his/her views about a topic before a large audience of people.

This regularly used newspaper format helps the public to see different sides of an issue. It helps them to take their own critical stance or position on a topic of concern.

Characteristics/Rubrics Base

• An issue that you are concerned about and have background information on.

• Statement of your position within the text of the letter.

• Multiple means of supporting your position; through anecdotes, examples, quotes, statistics, other Letters to the Editor or other editorials, etc.

• Statement of your previous background in regard to knowledge of the topic.

• Use of persuasive words to bring the reader to your particular way of thinking.

• Examination of the other side of the issue, but in your favour.

• Examples of what might happen if the issue is not solved in a practical manner.

• A plan of action for readers to follow.

• Proper letter format, with signature, address and phone number.

Curriculum link

Letters to the Editor are a perfect fit for every area of the curriculum.

Issues of every type need to explored and discussed before the public. We do not need to just hear from politicians but from people of all ages and backgrounds.

Letters to the Editor are a format used in multigenre reporting. They are also real world experience. Encourage students to actually send their letters to the editor as well as include them in their multigenre report.

Nothing is more exciting to a student than to actually see his/her own words in print in the newspaper.

Newspaper Connection

Using the rubric, examine Views in today’s copy of The Star found in the Main section of the paper. Which elements of the rubric were used? Which Letter to the Editor was most persuasive? Why?

Now write a Letter to the Editor on a topic that you feel is important and needs to be addressed. Mail it to the Editor for consideration to be published.

Creating multigenre blurbs

Newspapers include a summary section where the key articles of the day are summarised in short paragraphs.

The purpose of these summaries is to give the public information quickly, as well as to entice the reader to continue and read the entire article.

Characteristics/Rubrics Base

• Write five or six select summaries containing key happenings from particular events in your life or school in similar format to the news summaries you have read in the newspaper.

• Involvement of the 5 W’s, (who, what, where, when, and why and the how) of these key events in the summary.

• Exclusion of detailed, descriptive information.

• Initial sentence that includes several of the 5 W’s and an H.

• Information packed sentences that cover the event as completely as possible.

• Short headline lead in, followed by four to six sentences for each summary.

• Varied selection of topics – from events – happening in your life or at school.

• Elimination of persuasive statements.

• Factually accurate statements only.

Curriculum links

Summaries of articles or events can be used throughout the curriculum. Students have briefly summarised chapters in textbooks. Now they are writing on key elements of an event and summarising them to demonstrate comprehension much as they did with the textbook summaries.

The model for this writing would be the summaries in the newspaper. The more practise that a student gets in this format, the better prepared he will be for a lifetime of writing, as well as testing.

Newspaper Connection

Read several summaries found in the newspaper to get a feel for them and as examples for writing your own summaries.

Using the examples and the rubric, write summaries of a variety of articles from the newspaper. Make sure to include the 5W’s & H from the article with statements of fact and quotes.

Next week: Creating multigenre headlines and multigenre graphics. Since 1997, Star-NiE has been making a difference in the English language classrooms nationwide, with an emphasis on aiding teaching-learning activities with the use of authentic newspaper materials. Published on Wednesdays, The Star’s NiE pullout is available only through school subscriptions of The Star.

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