Student Task

Journalism for Justice

Do Something
Grade Level


Students plan, write, edit and distribute a piece of print or digital journalism about a relevant social problem or issue.

Estimated time

Two to four weeks


Journalism creates awareness of issues, promotes critical thinking and allows students to work collaboratively and integrate visual arts, design and writing. This task is for all students, not only those in a journalism class or club.


Get Ready

  1. Look closely at examples of newspapers and informational pamphlets in class. Pay special attention to features such as sections and subsections, headlines, editorials, pull quotes, photographs and captions.
  2. Educate yourself and your students on the legal and social history of the student press and its role in various movements. Research the Supreme Court’s Hazelwood decision and share The Student Press Law Center’s High School Top Ten List.
  3. Determine the resources needed for production and distribution. Will the final product(s) be digital or in print?
  4. As a class, students should discuss whether to collaborate on a single class newspaper (with individuals and teams contributing to different parts of that paper) or if they prefer to work separately on multiple projects.

Get Set

  1. Provide students with information about supplies, work schedule and due dates. Use the rubric to define expectations and project components and to clarify how you will assess student work.
  2. Introduce students to the Do Something Student Planning Guide to help them plan how their student journalism will make an impact on a social issue.


  1. Plan mini-lessons and class work time for conducting interviews, adding photography and art, drafting, peer editing, revising and publishing.
  2. Share finished products with the school and wider communities. Consider holding a press conference, issuing a press release, or doing a mass mailing to gain attention and support for your students’ causes.


Use journal writing or Talking Circles to facilitate student reflection. Suggested reflection questions:
  • What was your favorite piece of journalism? What were its strengths? How was it effective in conveying the message?
  • Discuss the effectiveness of using journalism for social justice change.
  • What did you learn from this experience? What about the process stands out for you? What did you learn about yourself as a writer, illustrator, reporter or editor?
  • How does the final product relate back to the central text?

English language learners1

Provide ample time for students to explore and discuss a variety of school newspapers, local papers or online journalism samples. these models. Explicitly teach vocabulary specific to the task, such as “editorial,” “ pamphlet,” “ survey,” etc. Make time for students to discuss their work with peers and to meet with you. Make your comments explicit and clear.

Connection to anti-bias education

Journalism allows students to explore issues of individual and local identity, and identify opportunities for improvement within the community, schools and classrooms. In addition, journalism promotes issue awareness. Journalism can also function as a call to action.