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Lesson Plan November 8, 2023

Bringing Stories Home: Exploring Local Journalism



  • Explore local news stories in order to engage with issues from your state and/or region
  • Examine and make personal connections to local issues and events
  • Use research, writing, and art skills to engage with local news and issues in the extension activities


1. As a class, brainstorm a list of local news outlets. These could be newspapers, websites, radio programs, TV channels, or any other source that is based in and focuses its coverage on your town/city or state.

2. Choose one of these outlets that has a website and pull it up on a projector, or direct students to explore the site on Internet-enabled devices. Discuss: How do students feel about the headlines they see? Are they relevant, interesting, useful, representative?

3. As a class, discuss:

  • What is the most recent news story you’ve read/seen/heard about your neighborhood, city, and/or state?
    • Briefly describe what the news story is about.
    • Where did you hear about the story? Do you know what publication or journalist reported the story?
    • Do you think people in your community should know about this story? Why or why not?
  • Which do you see most frequently: local, national, or international news? Which would you like to see most frequently, and why?
  • Today, we are going to explore local news, and reflect on its role in our lives and in our community. How do you think good local journalism could be useful to you and your community?

About this Resource:

Local journalism helps keep people informed about issues and developments close to home and can foster a sense of community, conversation, and civic engagement. When we explore local news stories, we gain a better understanding of problems that are affecting us, and may feel better prepared to engage in local affairs. Ultimately, local news can help us make more informed decisions and advocate for better policies that can make our communities healthier, happier, and more equitable places to live.

This resource is designed to help students access and engage with quality journalism local to their region and/or state. Students can use the story finder below to explore Pulitzer Center-supported reporting published by local outlets in their region. After selecting their region below, students can choose a news story based on the state they live in or their interest in the topic it covers. After exploring their chosen story, students will engage in discussion about the issues they learn about as well as the power and purpose of local news.

Wondering which region you should choose?

Click on the graphic labeled with the region you live in to find news stories local to your state and neighboring states. The U.S. Census Bureau defines the U.S. regions as follows:

Northeast: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont

Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin

South: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai'i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming

Reflection and Discussion:

Use details from the story you explored as well as your own reflections and experiences to respond to the following questions. These questions can be explored as part of whole-class discussions, small-group discussions, or individual reflections.

  1. What issues were discussed in this story?
  2. Were you already familiar with the issues discussed in the story? Did this story change your opinion on any local issue?
  3. What parts of the stories you read most interested and/or surprised you, and why?
  4. Do the issues in the story affect you, your family, friends, or neighbors? Explain.
  5. Is this story important for you to know about? Should your community know about it? Who else should know about it outside of your community? Explain your responses.
  6. Do you feel more equipped to take action on the issue you explored today than you did at the beginning of class? If you wanted to take action on this issue, what else would you need?
  7. Return to this question from your warm-up. Is your answer any different now? Could you expand on your ideas or offer new examples?
    • How do you think good local journalism could be useful to you and your community?

Extension Activities:

Option 1. Engage with Your Local News Outlets: Write a Letter to the Editor

What issues are important to you and your community? Do you think these issues are receiving the quality coverage they deserve? Choose a local news outlet and explore their recent news coverage of a specific issue that matters to you. Notice the quantity of coverage, and explore as many stories as possible to see how the issue is covered.

Then, write a letter to the editor sharing your opinion on their recent coverage of this issue. (Most news publications accept letters of about 150-250 words.) Your letter may take one of several approaches:

  • Letter thanking the outlet for their quality coverage of this issue, and encouraging them to continue this work
  • Letter pointing out that this issue has not received substantial coverage recently, and explaining why you think it's important to report on the issue more
  • Letter highlighting problems that you see in recent coverage of this issue, and suggesting a change

Send your letter to the news publication. Most publications will have a submission form or email address available on their websites.

Option 2. Dig Deeper into Local Issues: Create an Infographic

Infographics are a great way to raise awareness and share information in a clear, visually appealing format. Create an infographic that highlights the impact of the issue you learned about today in your community. (You can use the story you explored today as a source, and also do additional research to gather information.)

Your infographic should include the following:

  • A title that summarizes the topic of your infographic
  • Data visualizations
  • Citations (where does your data come from?)
  • Additional images

Students can use Canva's free infographic maker for their project.

Option 3. Dig Deeper into Local Issues: Art for Change

Art can be used as an instrument to inspire social and political change. With this in mind, create a piece of art that calls attention to the the issue you explored today, or another local issue that matters to you. Begin by reviewing the news story you chose, and/or seeking out additional local news stories that give you information on the causes and impacts of this issue.

You can draw, paint, write a poem, choreograph a dance, or use photography to inspire action. You may choose to focus on, criticize, depict, or explain a particular aspect of this issue. Consider sharing your work on social media or display it at school to raise awareness.


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