Media Studies - clarifications level 2 journalism skills

General Comments


For definitions of most terminology, see the Glossary of Standard Terminology.

Unit standard sufficiency

The work required to satisfy unit standards should be of similar quantity and quality as for achievement of Media Studies achievement standards at Level 2.

All the requirements of each standard should be met by students, including all performance criteria and all items in range statements, unless these are expressed in terms that offer some choice or flexibility, e.g. such as; any of; any three of; may include but are not limited to, etc.

Please note the specific interpretations in some standards.

Writing for Journalism

Evidence for journalism standards requiring writing or editing must reflect language skills appropriate to Level 7 of the curriculum.

Individual Grades

Students must be assessed on their individual work, not the quality of group-produced work.

Generic Conventions


Newsworthiness can be summed up as, 'Who cares and why?'

In determining newsworthiness, a journalist or editor considers these factors:

Timeliness How 'new' it is. News dates fast
Proximity How close it is to the readers/viewers/listeners of the news source
Exceptional quality How unusual it is; its abnormality
Number / Scale People numbers affected; size of the event (e.g. earthquake)
Prominence Whether someone/something famous is involved
Conflict Physical, emotional, political or intellectual
Controversy Debate or disagreement there over the figure, event or ongoing issue
Consequence Possible future effect - what has happened or might happen as a result
Human interest Pathos - soft news; 'warm fuzzy' stories
Shock value Extreme news: frightening or titillating

Copy (presentation ready for publication)

Examples of common journalism conventions for print publication copy are:

Font Times, Times New Roman or Arial; 12 point
Line spacing Double line spaced
Editing margin 4 cm left margin
Identification Writer's name left justified above story
Slug Story working title / brief subject; could be a draft headline
Byline Begin with this
Story copy Follows byline
Word count In parentheses (brackets) below story
ENDS At foot of the above

Similar conventions apply to radio and television news stories and scripts.

Publication stylebooks or other in-house guidelines may vary but some common journalistic conventions should be evident.


Common conventions include:

Fonts Clear and legible fonts assist access / enhance the story and page flow
2 or 3 font families at most
Serif (e.g. Times New Roman) for body copy in newspapers
Sans serif (e.g. Helvetica) for magazine articles, or headlines, subheads or short text pieces (e.g. sidebars) in any publication
Decorative fonts for headlines on feature articles, or advertisements
Flow Logical order, top left to bottom right of page - most to least important
Design Modular design and consistent column width in stories
S and Z curves, converging diagonals, rule of thirds etc., as appropriate
Graphics, headlines, pull quotes, drop caps, bold face, photos, screened boxes, dingbats, sidebars, etc. to create multiple page entry points

News Stories

Common news story conventions include but are not limited to:

Structure Inverted pyramid, 'top down' writing
Short (1-2 sentence) paragraphs
Able to be edited from the bottom up to fit space, without loss of essential information
Sentences Short simple or compound sentences
Active voice
Numerics Numbers 1-10 in words; 10 and above in numerals
Honorifics Titles (e.g. Dr, Prime Minster, Sir, Mrs etc.) applied accurately
Facts Accurate, fair and balanced
Fact and opinion clearly distinguished
Sources Acknowledged by attribution or references embedded in the text


US10817 version 2 Investigate the selection and presentation of current daily news

Element 1

The log and clipping files for this element must cover at least SEVEN days.

PC 1.1

Students must:

  • describe selected news items (not all, but at least FIVE per day)
  • discuss their newsworthiness (see Generic Conventions).

PC 1.2

Clipping files (see Special Note 2) may include print, audio, web and/or video files.

PC 1.3

Students must analyse the development of ONE major story - how the story grows, changes in its coverage/prominence, etc.

Analysis in terms of THREE items from the range statement or other valid factors is sufficient.

Element 2

Investigation of the selection of daily news across two media is sufficient.

PC 2.1

Students must describe and discuss factors that affect the selection of news across two media, in general terms.

Consideration in terms of THREE items from the range statement is sufficient.

PC 2.2

Students must:

  • identify ONE story common to more than one medium
  • discuss the reasons for its selection.

PC 2.3

Students must:

  • select their own news items for ONE particular day (e.g. Thursday, 12 March) and ONE particular media outlet (e.g. TV1)
  • the items could be selected from news presented in a range of media for that particular day
  • justify each selection, i.e. provide a rationale for its selection.

Element 3

Student investigation should address THREE of the range items for this element or other valid aspects of daily news presentation, across TWO media .

PC 3.1

Students must compare and contrast the presentation of the same story in ONE media outlet from each of TWO different media (e.g. TV1 vs Dominion Post).

PC 3.2

Students must compare and contrast the presentation of the same story in TWO media outlets from the same medium (e.g. TV1 vs TV3).

US10818 version 2 Demonstrate knowledge of current events in journalism

Time Period

The news tracking for this standard must take place over an extended period. An appropriate compromise is 'over three terms.'


The figures, events and issues must be major:

  • significant for the whole country (national)
  • significant for the world (international)
  • not local stories, e.g. Whanganui only.

The student ability to identify figures, events and issues that are of national or international importance/significance is part of the knowledge assessed.


See Generic Conventions above.

Assessment Evidence

Teachers could use any of a range of methods to assess this over time, e.g. clipping files, weekly tests, etc.

All stories must be dated and the source identified.

Primary evidence is not required for Elements 1 and 2, unless to authenticate work.

For Element 3, students should provide at least THREE story update references over an extended time (2-3 months at least) to establish that stories are ongoing issues.

Element 1


Students must:

  • identify, track and profile THIRTY major national and international figures (approximately 50% of each), in the news during the time period
  • identify each figure: name, with title(s) or position(s)/occupation, etc.
  • describe their role/s (what they did/do)
  • describe a specific situation in which each is in the news, during the assessment period
  • include supporting evidence, e.g. story date and source.

Element 2


Students must identify, track and profile TWENTY major national and international news events (approximately 50% of each), in the news during the three-term period.

For each, students must:

  • describe the context for it
  • explain why the event is newsworthy (see Generic Conventions).

Element 3


Students must cover TEN national and international issues (approximately 50% of each).

Students must:

  • identify (name) the issues
  • describe them in some detail
  • explain the newsworthiness of each.

Issues must:

  • be major, i.e. a large number of people or countries affected
  • be ongoing, i.e. already active for some time and possibly unresolved at the end of tracking.

US10819 version 2 Conduct interviews for news stories

Writing for Journalism

See General Comments, above.

Range of interviews

Students must (ALL listed):

  • plan and carry out at least FIVE vox pop interviews (see PC1.3)
  • plan TWO interviews for stories for newspaper or magazine publication
  • secure ONE interview face-to-face (i.e. by direct approach in person)
  • secure ONE interview by telephone contact
  • conduct ONE interview (more than a vox pop)
  • record ONE interview.

Element 1


Teacher or students could identify a topical issue.

Students must plan and conduct vox pops.


Students must conduct vox pops on the street or in a public place. School grounds/buildings are not the intended environment.


Vox pop responses must:

  • be recorded accurately for publication, by any reasonable means
  • include essential details (e.g. name, occupation, age).

Element 2

The interviews must have a story end-use purpose.

Students must plan TWO.


Students must clearly state both purpose and focus for each story for which they plan interviews. A one-sentence outline is sufficient.

Focus may be interpreted as 'angle.'


The TWO interviewees must be able to provide the information or interest required for each story's purpose and focus.

Name and a one-sentence justification would suffice for each.


The student must provide evidence of appropriate research prior to the interview that will help prepare specific interview questions to develop the story in detail.

The interviews must provide some information that will enrich the stories and assist reader understanding and interest.

Element 3

Students must:

  • secure TWO interviews (seek and gain permission; arrange time, date, place)
  • record evidence - on video or audio, ideally. Teacher observation signed off by student and teacher is minimum proof.


Student must provide to interviewees:

  • their name
  • their publication
  • the purpose of the interview.


Students must provide some evidence of asking interviewees for permission to interview.


Students must provide evidence of asking permission to record the interview.

Element 4


  • may also provide evidence for Element 5 requirements if video recorded
  • must obtain real material for real stories
  • role-plays or interviews with friends / class members are not sufficient.


Interviews should obtain useful information. Open-ended questions are recommended.

PCs 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4

Adjusting language, dress and behaviour are essential to make an interviewee feel comfortable and take the reporter seriously.

Language must:

  • be appropriate to the interviewee and topic
  • avoid slang, casual language and jokes (not usually appropriate)
  • include follow up/clarification questions, e.g. 'You said just before that ? Can you explain what you mean?'
  • include body language that assists communication: clear engagement, eye contact, focused posture, etc.


Interviewer should:

  • show interest and prompt the interviewee to continue (verbal or non-verbal feedback, prompts, body language, facial expressions etc.)
  • show respect
  • not speak over the interviewee
  • not take over the interview.


(See PCs 4.2 and 4.3)

Interviewer dress (clothing) should:

  • be appropriate to the subject (interviewee), topic, environment etc.
  • show that the student has adjusted their dress (clothing/grooming) to suit
  • not necessarily include school uniform, which may be counter-productive for some interviews.

Element 5


  • may be video or audio as appropriate
  • should be recorded using a microphone that gathers and records clear, usable audio material.


Student should run pre-recording checks to ensure that audio is clear and the volume sufficient to enable easy note-taking after the interview.


Students should note key words/phrases, or use time counters to locate key quotes later.


Recordings/interview notes must:

  • allow for simple collection of all the evidence required
  • show that specified information has been obtained and checked for accuracy during the interview (e.g. by follow up questions such as, 'Do you mind spelling that for me?').

Information must include:

  • date
  • time
  • name
  • honorific (title)
  • contact details (telephone OR address)
  • facts relevant to the intended story.

US10820 version 2 Write short news stories


The objective is short, sharp news writing.

Students must provide:

  • ONE hard news story of 150-170 words
  • TWO further news stories of no more than 300 words each.

Stories must:

  • be news of real events, not features or opinion pieces etc.
  • include at least ONE 'hard' news story
  • avoid 'soft' news (human interest, 'fluffy duck' stories etc.).

Element 1


See Generic Conventions above.

PC 1.2

Stories must:

  • contain essential details (e.g. roles of participants)
  • conform to news story conventions (see Generic Conventions)
  • be written in a sequence that allows the story to flow logically.


Information from sources:

  • may include material in tapes, interview notes, statistics, etc.
  • should be 'translated' or summarised accurately
  • should be supported by original source material for verification, if required, e.g. reporter notes, interview recordings etc.).


See Generic Conventions - news stories.

PCs1.5, 1.6 and 1.7

Stories must:

  • be fair, accurate and factual
  • not include emotive language or unattributed opinions
  • be balanced, e.g. by inclusion of a range of different viewpoints
  • focus on facts, with any opinions attributed
  • include attributions (e.g. 'X said') for all quotes.

Element 2



  • may vary in formality to suit the publication/TA etc. A stylebook or example of the publication could provide guidance
  • should observe grammar rules
  • should use capitals and punctuation consistently well (one or two lapses at most).

See Generic Conventions above for further details.

PC 2.2

A specific, pre-set deadline must be met.

See Generic Conventions above for presentation ready for publication.



  • must be suggested for each story (e.g at end of copy)
  • should focus on the central angle of the story
  • must be achievable/realistic.

10821 version 2 Sub-edit news stories and features


Students must sub-edit TWO news stories and ONE feature.

Sub-editing must:

  • be the student's own work, not by consultation with the writer(s) or group decisions
  • be of stories written by other reporters/students.


  • must be sufficiently flawed to enable students to address all the requirements specified (too long to fit the space, intros dull, language not clear and readable, inaccuracies etc.)
  • could be provided by teacher if other students' writing is too polished.

Evidence should include both draft and edited copy to show sub-editing.  

Special Notes
SN 1

The requirements of sub-editing for journalism go beyond simple proofreading skills. An Introduction to Newspaper Editing and Design (Eley, P and Lee, A) provides guidance.

Element 1

PCs 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3

Sub-editing must (see Generic Conventions above):

  • adjust intros to ensure they have impact
  • adjust stories to cover essential details (5 Ws and H etc.)
  • adjust stories to use clear, readable language
  • show that copy that would not fit in the space allocated on a page has been trimmed/cut to fit
  • create a clear, comprehensible sequence so that stories flow logically, e.g. short, well connected paragraphs
  • provide information in order of importance: most important first.


Students must:

  • sub-edit text that will not fit in space pre-allocated on a newspaper or magazine page
  • show that they have trimmed/cut the copy to do so
  • not omit essential information or affect the logic of the story.

If stories are written effectively (See 10820 , PC 1.2), sub-editors should be able to cut from the bottom up without losing essential information.

In some situations, copy may have to be changed higher up in the story.


Sub-editors must show they have checked that:

  • jargon / terminology has been used correctly
  • language does not shift meaning or colour the story
  • grammar is correct
  • information is correct. This may require evidence of checking sources, verifying reporter notes, etc.


See Generic Conventions above. A stylebook for a specific publication may vary from normal conventions.


There is some overlap with PC1.5 (accuracy).

Sub-editors should:

  • have some understanding of plagiarism, copyright, defamation and/or privacy law/ethics
  • identify most potential legal/ethical issues
  • get potential issues checked by reporter, editor or teacher etc.

Sub-editors do not have to know how to address issues identified.

Element 2

PC2.1 (See PC1.1)

Different feature types:

  • may include reviews, opinion pieces, travel/entertainment features etc.
  • may have different needs/purposes - conversational tone, wit, provocation etc.

The sub-editor must adjust the intro so that:

  • it grabs attention
  • it is appropriate to the tone of the article, its purpose, its TA and/or its intended publication.

PC2.2 (See PC1.2)

Sub-editing changes to the feature must:

  • create a coherent structure
  • enable a reader to easily follow its order
  • enable a reader to understand the content/point.

PC2.3 (See PC1.3)

More flexibility and a wider range of vocabulary and sentence type and/or paragraph length may be appropriate.

Clear evidence of sub-editing is required.

PC2.5 (See PC1.6)

Conventions are flexible but should be linked to appropriate tone, TA, publication, purpose etc.

PC2.7 and 2.8

Opinions must:

  • be easily identifiable
  • be stated as such, e.g. 'HOD English, Ms Fairweather believes that NCEA is unfair?'
  • be attributed in quotes, e.g. '"The school does not support this behaviour," the principal, Mr Brothers, said?'
  • (for data, statistics, etc.) be identified by footnotes or bracketed information, e.g. ( Source: ACNEILSEN ).
  • enable the reader to know where the information comes from
  • not be expressed as facts, e.g. 'NCEA is unfair?'

10822 version 2 Provide photos for news stories and features


The relation of a photo to a news story /feature) is its link to it and how it complements or enhances it.

Shooting /Selection

Photos must support specific intended news stories/features.

Students should:

  • provide a copy of (or at least specific ink to) the story/feature
  • provide a clear description of the story focus/ intent if it is not yet written
  • shoot more photos than required to enable selection (Element 2)
  • provide two versions of each selected photo: raw and enhanced.


Photos should:

  • be in focus (sharp and clear), at least on the main subject
  • have a dominant feature, i.e. one clear object, action or person that is the largest and most eye-catching element of the picture
  • show faces and eye contact with the camera where appropriate
  • (mostly) show the subject in the environment of the story or doing something related to it
  • rarely include mug shots
  • ensure subject fills the frame
  • be posed when possible to ensure usefulness (not action shots)
  • ensure the main focus (especially faces) is well lit and exposed
  • follow the rule of thirds, more in front of faces than behind and other basic composition rules
  • be in a resolution suitable for print (min. 140dpi, best - 300dpi)
  • usually not include mobile phone camera photos
  • not require sophisticated image adjustment (Element 2).

Raw photos are as shot in the camera, i.e. without adjustments (Element 1). 

Enhanced photos are sized and cropped to make them more effective (Element 2).

Printed images :

  • may be B&W or CMYK as appropriate
  • may be annotated on a printed page.

Digital image files :

  • include TIFF, EPS, JPEG or RAW image files
  • may be provided on CD
  • could have referenced annotations in a separate document.

Element 1

Students must shoot photos to support ONE news story and ONE feature.


This performance criterion is problematic.

Some group protocols and cultural expectations are well understood (e.g. Muslim or Maori), but some are not (e.g. Mongrel Mob).

Recording evidence of appropriate approaches is not always practicable. Appropriate evidence may include but is not limited to:

  • photos clearly posed at photographer's request
  • signed written release forms
  • a sample 'script' used by the student when approaching subjects, etc.

PCs 1.2 and 1.3

Students must:

  • compose photos (i.e. deliberately frame, position, angle, pose subjects
  • support the main focus (angle etc.) of the story, by the photo composition
  • provide evidence of the required information for each photo and/or photo shoot (PC1.3)
  • include all of the information listed in the range statement (PC1.3).

Element 2

Students must provide evidence of selection, e.g. three photos taken for each story; ONE selected.

PCs 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3

See Photos (above) and PC1.2.


Students must:

  • improve selected photos by cropping and sizing
  • avoid increasing size, wherever possible (introduces quality issues).

10823 version 2 Write radio news stories


Students must write:

  • TWO or more radio news stories
  • ONE voice report.

Element 1

News Story and Voice Report conventions for radio

Structure conventions (PC1.2, 1.3) for radio news stories are in general the same as for short news stories for print. See Generic Conventions.

News stories and voice reports must:

  • be grammatically correct
  • use correct spelling and punctuation
  • use phonetic spelling of unusual or non-English words to assist newsreaders
  • be written for the ear, i.e. in a simple, conversational style that enables listeners to easily grasp the main facts without being able to read it in print (PCs 1.4, 1.5, 2.1).
  • vary in formality to suit the specific format and TA of the station
  • be fair, accurate and balanced (PC1.6), i.e. the views of (most) main stakeholders included
  • not be unduly emotive, biased or judgemental
  • ensure facts have been checked and verified
  • identify sources (quotes etc.) to authenticate the story (PC1.7).

Element 2

Voice Report conventions for radio

Voice reports should:

  • not simply repeat the news story read by the announcer/newsreader
  • provide additional supporting information
  • further develop a basic news story
  • carry a byline, e.g. "Rachel Wallace, Prime News, London."

Both Elements

Copy should be:

  • typed
  • double line spaced
  • Times New Roman, 12 point
  • with phonetic pronunciation where necessary
  • with a 4cm left margin for sub-editing, where required.
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