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One of the writing tasks you’ll be asked to complete on the OSSLT is a one-page news report. As it’s explained in the OSSLT Planning and Preparation Guide (eqao.com):
· Students are required to write a news report based on the picture and headline provided. Students must find a link between the headline and the photograph that could be used as an event for a report that would appear in a newspaper. Students are given one lined page for their written work.
· A news report usually answers the questions who, what, where, when, why and how.
Reading examples of well written news reports is a good way to learn how to write them. But, if you’re like most young Canadians, you get news from sources other than a newspaper. A report on PBS.org cites a Canadian study showing that “more people prefer to get their news via their friends and acquaintances on social media, than from a journalist or news organization.” For this reason, you may not be familiar with the format of a news report.
So, where should you look?
To find the kind of news report that you’ll have to write for the OSSLT, you’ll need to look in newspapers, either in print or online. As you look through the headlines for a good story with a picture, be prepared: a lot of newspaper articles are not “news reports,” at least not the kind that the OSSLT requires.
First of all, some stories are opinion pieces or personal essays: Our new universal sport: the Smartphone Olympics. They’re well written, interesting and amusing, but they don’t depict an event and answer the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. And, they express the opinion of the writer.
Some stories are controversial blog entries: Want to see who’s unfriended you on Facebook? Now it’s easy to know. This article is also interesting and informative, but it’s a blog entry, and invites readers to comment. It’s also a bit like an advertisement, because it’s promoting a browser add-on.
And some stories are either advice, “how-to” or celebrity gossip: Cocker spaniel joins Will and Kate’s royal world.
Finally, lots of good newspaper stories have no picture to accompany them, or the picture that’s shown has little to do with the story. Note that in all three of the above stories, the pictures are generic stock photos.
That’s okay. These news stories are still informative and entertaining. But they are not examples of the kind of writing you have to do on the OSSLT.
Challenge: Can you find other reasons why these articles may not meet OSSLT rules for a news report? Answers posted soon.
Watch for future entries with tips about how to identify the elusive news report and how to write one.