1.en.1 Writing a newspaper article: A talk

Gonzalo Fanjul

This Monday we are attending a talk by Gonzalo Fanjul, an economist specialized in Development Policies and owner of the blog 3.500 millones de ideas irreverentes contra la pobreza.

He will talk about why the number of people in the world  suffering from lack of food is growing, while at the same time obesity and food waste is on the increase.


Listen to what he has to say and take notes during the talk in order to write a newspaper article (225 to 250 words).

Features of your Article

Headline: Font type: ARIAL; Font size: 28

Text Font type: ARIAL; Font size: 12

Text in two columns

Images: Include at least one image, don’t forget to add caption (and source if possible)

Here you are some guidelines on how to do it:

Structure of a newspaper article

Newspaper articles usually have a title (called the headline) that is set in large type. The writer of a newspaper article is often not credited; if the author is mentioned, this credit is called the author’s byline.

The beginning of each newspaper article (the first paragraph) is called the lead (one or two sentences long); the lead should summarize the main facts of the article, telling the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, and why) and how. The first paragraph should also contain a hook, something that grabs the reader’s attention and makes the reader want to read the rest of the article.

The rest of the paragraphs form the body of the article. It can consist of several supporting paragraphs which go into more detail about the topic, often including quotes and interesting facts. The less important information should appear later in the article, since the article may be cropped (shortened) by the editor (the person who puts the newspaper together) to make the article fit on the newspaper page.

This layout is usually called the inverted pyramid layout:     

Task: Imagine you work as a reporter for an English newspaper. Your boss has sent you to cover the talk and write in the next edition of the paper. Use your notes and any extra information you can gather in the web to write a short article (between 175 and 200 words) reflecting the content and the development of the talk.

Don’t forget to follow the Inverted Pyramid layout and include all the different parts of a newspaper article.

To learn more about writing a newspaper article follow this link: Writing newspaper articles.


2.en.35 The Melting Pot, Cultural Mosaic, Multiculturalism

In Post 2.en.31, I asked you if you knew what  “the melting pot” meant, in connection with the article you read about different immigrants, talking about their life in New York.

None of you had ever heard the term. On Tuesday, Liz will come to class and we’ll be able to ask her how she feels about this term. Terms such as “multiculturalism”, Cultural Mosaic”, “Melting pot” are widely used in the media. We shall talk about them in class. Listen to this animated video. It might help you understand the idea of “the Melting Pot” I’ve cut and pasted the lyrics for you.

My grandmother came from Russia
A satchel on her knee,
My grandfather had his father’s cap
He brought from Italy.
They’d heard about a country
Where life might let them win,
They paid the fare to America
And there they melted in.
Lovely Lady Liberty
With her book of recipes
And the finest one she’s got
Is the great American melting pot.
The great American melting pot.

America was founded by the English,
But also by the Germans, Dutch, and French.
The principle still sticks;
Our heritage is mixed.
So any kid could be the president.

You simply melt right in,
It doesn’t matter what your skin.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot.
The great American melting pot.
Ooh, what a stew, red, white, and blue.

America was the New World
And Europe was the Old.
America was the land of hope,
Or so the legend told.
On steamboats by the millions,
In search of honest pay,
Those 19th-century immigrants sailed
To reach the U.S.A.

Lovely Lady Liberty
With her book of recipes
And the finest one she’s got
Is the great American melting pot
The great American melting pot.
What good ingredients,
Liberty and immigrants.

They brought the country’s customs,
Their language and their ways.
They filled the factories, tilled the soil,
Helped build the U.S.A.
Go on and ask your grandma,
Hear what she has to tell
How great to be an American
And something else as well.

Lovely Lady Liberty
With her book of recipes
And the finest one she’s got
Is the great American melting pot
The great American melting pot.

The great American melting pot.
The great American melting pot.

2.en.31 More newspapers and more immigration stories: “The New York Times” “The Guardian” and “El País in English”

So far, we have read and analysed different newspapers and different types of newspaper articles. Do you remember? Here are the links to refresh your memory.

From The Guardian:

From El País in English:

In this post, we’ll go back to the immigration issue. Do you remember the post 1.en.7? It might be a good idea to spend some time revising what we did at the beginning of the first term. So, have a look at post 1.en.27 again.  It will be a good introduction to today’s task. In October we commented an article from El Páis which discussed how the immigration flow towards Spain had decreased. We also looked at an interactive map where you could check migration patterns at word level.

  • This time, we shall look at migration from a different perspective. We’ll use an article that appeared in The New York Times this year. It consists of a first person narrative of 12 immigrants who are living in New York. The article contains pictures. It is  published in a section of the paper that encourages interaction, so you can actually  read many more testimonies from other inmigrants. I would like you to carry out a set of tasks similar  to the ones you did with the You Tube Orchestra videos.  


HOMEWORK: 12th December

Task 1

Read again the article : 1.en.7 immigrants or emigrants?use the new worksheet to find out if the headline and the lead are good ones. Write comments in your notebook. 

Task 2:

Use this interactive map to check the number of people who migrate to the USA. (arrivals) aslo compare it with departures. Finaly,  Take note in your notebook. 

Task 3:

Read the article from the New York Times written by Sam Dolnik. Take notes in your notebook. It is a similar exercise to the one you did with the You Tube Orchestra. You mst consider the following aspects.

  1. How long have they been in the USA?
  2. Why did they leave their country?
  3. How old are they?
  4. What is their job?
  5. What did they do in their country of origin?
  6. Do they regret moving to the States?
  7. Do they give any details on their background and family life before they emigrated?
  8. What are their plans for the future?
  9. What is the object they have chosen to keep? 
  10. Why is it valuable for them?
  11. Use the interactive map to check the number of people who emigrate to the USA. Compare with other destinations

Choose the story you liked best and post the comment to the blog. Search the comments made by New York Time readers. Choose another story and post it to the blog.

I’ve  prepared a power point for you using the pics and texts from the New Yoirk Time. I hope you’ll find it helpful.  However, if you prefer to work with the online article, you are certainly welcome to do so. Internal links within the presentation t are not supported on SlideShare, so you will need to move back and forth using the mouse click.

  • Did you like the stories?
  • Are you surprised by the number of immigrants that live in New York?
  • Are you familiar with the expression “the melting pot”?
  • Finally , as a follow up activity, read this piece of news from El País.

2.en 29 Gender issues in the news: Why women pay more at the wheel

In our last outing, we listened to Rosa Mª Calaf talking  about journalism and media literacy.   In order to be critical readers, knowing how to read is not enough. we must be aware of how information is presented to us in the media. We have  already discussed  gender issues using news stories  from El País, digital edition in English. Do you remember the article about a school head killed by Talibans?    A news story  has trapped our attention once more.It was published the 1st of December in El País. This time we’ll focus not only on its content,  but on analysing  the way information is presented in newspapers.

Headlinelead and byline are key words to understand how information is organised in any newspaper.

Headline: is text at the top of a newspaper article, indicating the nature of the article. The headline catches the attention of the reader and relates well to the topic. Modern headlines are typically written in an abbreviated style omitting many elements of a complete sentence but almost always including a non-copula verb.

 lead:  captures the attention of the reader and sums up the focus of the story. The lead also establishes the subject, sets the tone and guidesreader into the article.In a news story, the introductory paragraph tells the most important facts and answers the questions: whowhatwherewhenwhy, and how.

Byline:  gives the name and often the position of the writer.

Here you can see the headline, lead and byline of a news story that was published yesterday in El País digital edition .Now, see how headline, lead and byline  fit at the top of the article.

After reading the headline and the lead sentence  what  kind of information do you expect to find? Do you have any previous knowledge on the topic? Can you anticipate part of the information you will find?  Discuss.

  • The article is likely/ is not likely  to include
  • The article might include
  • The article will certainly /probably/include
  • The article should/ought to include
  1. Information on driving lessons prices
  2. Information on accident rates
  3. Information on insurance prices
  4. Statistics
  5. Laws
  6. Other 

Here follow some of the sources that are cited in the article. Why did the journalist choose to include them in the news story?

  • Consumers Union
  • Laura Seara , Secretary of State for equality issues
  • Carlos Bricio, president of  Zaragoza Driving Schools Associtions. Owner of some driving schools that  offered differentiated prices according to sex.
  • José Miguel Báez, president of the National Confederation of  Driving Schools  
  • The Spanish Traffic Authority (DGT)
  • the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia (RACC)
Now, use this news story sworksheet to analyse the article. 
Homework: Print or copy the worksheet in your notebook. Answer the questions of the post and of the worksheet. Bring it to class next week. We shall use them to hold ad debate on the topic. Post your answers and comments to the blog for Monday 5h December.  Did you find the worksheet useful? 

1.en.16 Feedback on Gervasio Sánchez talk

This morning we went to la Caixa to listen to Gervasio Sánchez. I include here some parts of your compositions. So far, only 10 people have sent them to the Google doc I opened. Congratulations to all the students who finished their work and have done such a good job! We’ll comment them in class together.  From what I have read, I think you found it very interesting and learnt a lot.

“If you meet Gervasio in the street, you will never imagine he’s a war correspondent; I think he doesn’t have the look of them. His clothes are correct, he has grey hair, he doesn’t have beard… Gervasio is a nice person very concerned about injustice and the consequences of armed conflicts in poor countries.” Clara

“One hundred years ago the 90% of dead were militars, now the 90% of dead are civilian. One of five dead were children in Sarajevo.
Gervasio explained us the people who are our age have to kill other people to defend themselves.

Men can be criminals but at the same time can be heroes too. He has seen people who were murdered  because they didn’t want to kill anybody.” Paula Gomila

“He told us three stories. The first was about a boy of Sarajevo that was 13 years old. One day, he went to play football with his friends. He saw a mine and he took the mine, but it exploded and he lost one arm and parts of his face. The second story was about a girl called Sophia that lost her two legs. And the third story was about a boy that was with his friend. They found a mine, and his friend took it, but the mine slipped and the boy lost one leg” Vladis

“All of these stories are very sad and I can’t imagine how much they suffered but in one video that Gervasio showed us, these three people now, have family and the best thing: they smile.” Maria

“Three weeks ago he returned from Afghanistan. He has seen many people die in three weeks. He said that there they attack  the girls because they want to go to the school, and he said also that the things that we do here  every day in Afghanistan is a heroic act.” Silvia

“He doesn’t like answering personal questions.
Today Gervasio talked about Afghanistan, He visited Afghanistan 3 weeks ago approximately and he saw many people that died. He explained that the girls go with burka to school. “ Marga 

“Gervasio is a journalist and photographer who lives in Zaragoza with his wife and his son. He is very funny and I think very clever.  In 1995, started his photographic project Mined Lives on the impact of landmines on the population. I liked very much the conference of Gervasio Sanchez. I love one sentence that said the journalist: “life and death are found together.” Marina 

“Gervasio gave us  a talk on his work on the wars, mines, battered women… He
told us he likes to interact with others. 90% of war victims are civilians.” Sergio

“During the conference he highlighted three stories about three different persons: the first is a boy in Sarajevo, when he tried to remove a mine and it exploded and his arm was amputated  and was half blind” Ariadna

“The talk was very interesting for me, specially the photo series “Mined lives”. I liked the video of the end dedicated to people victim of mines, ten years later, and how they rebuilt their life.” Julia

1.en.14 The 5 most dangerous countries in which to be a woman

According to a survey published by the Guardian, Afghanistan is the worst country in the world  for women.

Click on this interactive map and find out which 5 countries are at the top  of the ranking and why it is so: no  access to education, literacy rates, life expectancy, lack of rights, arranged mariages, rapes, honour killings , domestic violence and genitale mutilation are some of the obstacles women have to cope with in everyday life.

HOMEWORK: Monday 24th October. Look at the percentages that appear on the left as you click in each country. Make a table in your notebook and fill it with rates and percentages from this article. Make a comment on the blog on  the figures that shocked you most. 

Here follow two videos that give you a different perspective of daily life in Afghanistan.  The first one is an initiative  that aims at changing  patterns of behaviour among children. It is about the power of sports( skating) to  build up self confidence among girls  and boys and to develop a sense of community among kids.

  • Would you say skating is as popular among girls as among boys?
  • You do not need to go very far, do you? Just sitting at Plaza del Tubo for a couple of hours in the evenings, you can easily answer this question.
  • Well, some people thought that it promoting skating adn building a skate park would be a good start for Afghan girls.

HOMEWORK: Monday 24th October.Watch the video and answer the questions. Follow the established routine: Each person will upload an answer to the blog. Do not repeat answers unless you do it to correct your classsmates. Questions must be answered in order. Once the whole set has been answered and revised in a class session, you can copy them in your notebook. 

Now, 20 questions about the film that will make you reflect on what an initiative such as skateistan is perceived by the kids in Kabul.

  1. How old is Murza?
  2. Was he born in Kabul?
  3. What does he say about his village Charekar?
  4. Why isn’t he too scared of violence?
  5. Does  he think violence will end in the near future?
  6. Where did he use to work?
  7. Where does he work now?
  8. What are his tasks in the skate park?
  9. How does Murza describe his relationship with skating?
  10. What does Sharna Nolan do  in Skateistan?
  11. What is the main objective of Skateistan?
  12. How old is Fazilla?
  13. Where does she work?
  14. What can you see in the background when kids are skating on a rooftop?
  15. What does Fazilla’s father think of her hobby?
  16. How does Murza describe his experience during Taliban period?
  17. What do the streets and the buildings of Kabul look like?
  18. What does Murza say the people of Afghanistan must do?
  19. How does he see the future?
  20. Did you like the film?
Finally, here is the  trailer of a film from 2007, whose director is a 19 year old woman. It narrates the story of a little Afghan girl who longs to go to school and does not understand she lives in a country where access to education is banned to women. Children reproduce adult roles and boys play to be “Talibans” with her and pretend to stone her. In the backgorund, a real story, the destruction ot Budha’s statues by Talibans in  early 2001. In that year, the Taliban militia destroyed all statues in the nation, including two ancient giant Buddhas in Bamian, outside Kabul. The destruction was ordered by religious leaders, who regarded the figures as idolatrous and un-Islamic. The title of the film in English was “Budha collapsed out of shame”
Have you seen it? would you like to see it?

1.en.13 learning to read headlines: “Taliban kill head of Afghan girl’s school”

This year  we have already worked on three newspaper articles. The first one a pice of news from a local newspaper about our school, the second one  on a piece of news taken from the digital edition of El País in English on immigration and emigration, Today,  I propose to you a headline from the on line Guardian. It dates back from last May, but if fits with the topic we are dealing with and will give you some background on the country you are investigating: Afghanistan.

My choice was also guided because on Tuesday , you will go to La Caixa where you probably will learn much more about  what to live in Afghanistan is like. Gervasio Sánchez was there last September.

Look at this piece of news covered by the Guardian. You can read the same story covered by El País. By clicking on the links, you can read the whole story. 

  • What’s characteristic of headlines?
  • Which part of the sentence is omitted , if any?
  • does the sentence follow grammar conventions?
  • Is the headline catchy?
  • Where does the piece of news come from? an agency? a correspondant?
  • who signs the piece of news?
  • Does the headline anticipate all the information you’ll find in the article?
  • Do the headline and caption answer most “WH” questions?
  • What about the photograph chosen?
  • who is the protagonist of the story?
  • Can you think of other photos other than the one chosen that would have changed our perception of the news story: The teacher killed, talibans holding guns, a classroom…?

What would have happened if you had looked up the word “head” in a dictionary and had read only the first meaning of the word?

How many different meanings do yo have to look at until you actually find one that fits ?

Look at  dictionary reference.com. We need to scroll down until we get to (5)

Now, compare the headlines in the Guadian with the headline from   El País coverage of the same piece of news.