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How-To: Develop as a Professional


Topic of Newspaper: Genetics, DNA technology, and Genetic Disorders

Brief Description: This project involves:

  • researching information about genetics
  • writing various types of articles
  • presenting these articles in a newspaper format.
Focus of Research:
  • genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome, Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle-Cell Anemia, Tay Sachs, PKU, hemophilia, Huntington Disease, and any others that you find interesting
  • types of DNA technology such as Bacterial Transformation, Electrophoresis of DNA to identify people, PCR, and any others that you find interesting
Types of Articles and Items for your newspaper (without descriptions):


• Lead Story – Scientific News Story
• Personal Interest News Story
• Feature Story
• Review
• Editorial
• Letter to Editor
• Editorial Cartoon
• Advice Column
• Obituary
• Cartoon Strip

one of the following:

Want Ad

Wedding or Birth Announcement
Police Log

Types of Articles and Items for your newspaper (with descriptions):
  • Lead story - scientific news story about a specific genetic disorder. This type of article usually is about a “breaking story.” You may be writing about something that is NOT “breaking,” but the article should be written as if it were. Your story should answer the “5 W’s” – who, what, where, when, and why. There should be a great deal of factual information. For this item you are writing as a reporter. There should be no bias or point of view in this article.
  • Personal interest news story about a family that is dealing with a specific genetic disorder. A story such as this is a “human interest” story. It will also answer the 5 W’s but also evokes sympathy in the reader.
  • Feature story that includes an interview with someone who has a genetic disorder, works with someone with a genetic disorder, researches a genetic disorder, or someone who is willing to be interviewed regarding what they know about genetics. For this story, you really need to interview someone. You should prepare your questions in advance.
  • Review of a magazine article, movie, or chapter in a book about genetics or DNA technology. You need to read a magazine article, watch a movie, or read a chapter in a book about genetics. Then you need to review the item. You should state the title, author, date, and any other relevant information. Then you need to summarize the information. Finally, you will state whether you liked the item or not and why.
  • Editorial, where you argue some ethical issue involved in genetics. Editorials are written in essay form and express the opinion of the editorial board. An editorial usually has four parts (opinion about something, examples, conclusion, and suggestions for actions that the reader might take).
  • Letter to the editor from someone who argues the other side of the ethical issue discussed in the editorial. This letter should also use examples. This will be written from the point of view of some character that you invent.
  • Editorial cartoon related to genetics. Editorial cartoons express opinions using humor – often ironic or sarcastic.
  • Advice column, where you write a question from the point of view of someone else and then answer that question from your point of view. The question should involve a genetic disorder or some other aspect of genetics.
  • Obituary about someone who was important in DNA science (Gregor Mendel, James Watson, Francis Crick, Roslyn Franklin, and Charles Drew are obvious examples, but there are many others). An obituary of this type will tell about the famous person and describe their career, discoveries, and awards, as well as a little about their personal life.
  • Comic strip that you create yourself. You can use characters from the comic pages of a real newspaper – but you should credit your source. The topic and frames need to be original.
Other Items – you need to include at least ONE of these:
  • Want ads (this could be something that you are selling or someone else is selling – that is related to genetics)
  • Advertisements (this would be for some product or company related to genetics)
  • Puzzles (this could include genetic terms)
  • Sports (this could be a article about a Special Olympics Event – you can make up the details)
Totally extra items – you can include or not (is there any way to link these to genetics??)
  • Wedding announcements or birth announcements
  • Police log
  • Horoscope
  • Weather
Other details you should include in your newspaper:
  • Masthead and banner - runs across the entire width of the top of the first page – gives the time of the paper (for example: The Gene Journal), the day of the week, the date, the cost.
  • Index – table of contents should be in a box somewhere on the first page.
  • Headline for each story - a title over a story that summarizes the story and entices the reader to read the entire article.
  • Box (at least one) – this is a very small article or a headline that is enclosed in a box to give it emphasis.
  • Byline – each story should have the name of the writer, placed above the article and under the headline.
  • Pictures – you should have at least 3 pictures in your newspaper.
  • Caption – each picture should have an explanatory note above it.
  • Credit line – you should give the source of each picture.
  • Cutline – below each picture should be a more detailed description of what is in the picture.
Writing Tips:
  • In the first one or two sentences of your articles you should give the who, what, when, where and why of the subject. You should also try to “hook” your audience. Find something unique or clever or surprising to start with.
  • Be sure to include details and examples. Quotes are useful.
  • Have a concluding paragraph that ties everything together. A memorable last sentence can conclude a news article nicely. Avoid words such as “In conclusion… or “To finish…..”
  • Use active words – verbs that are exciting! “The man dashed headlong into the crowd” is better that “The man ran fast.”
  • Generally, for your main feature articles, you should write in the 3rd person.
  • Keep your articles focused on the topic – don’t include unrelated information.
  • In your interviews use some verbs other that “said.” You could use words such as “commented,” “uttered,” “declared,” “voiced,” etc. (Use a thesaurus!)
  • Do not use flowery descriptions in news articles. Those types of descriptions are for fiction!
  • Create your headline AFTER you have written the report – you will be better able to create a catchy headline, then.
  • You should use graphics and pictures – very important in newspapers! You can even use your own artwork.
  • BE SURE YOU DO CAREFUL research so that you know what you are talking about.
  • DO NOT copy work from the Internet – this writing must be original.

Evaluation Rubric

  Low High
Scientific lead story        
Personal interest        
Feature story        
Review of item        
Editorial opinion        
Letter to editor        
Editorial cartoon        
Advice column        
Comic strip        
Choice - required        
Choice – extra        
Choice – extra        
Choice – extra        
Choice - extra        

Meanings of 1, 2, 3, and 4:

Rating of 1
Written expression and form are weak.
Language is not appropriate to newspaper writing.
Article is lacking depth – too short, no examples.
Organization of article is poor.
A number of grammar, paragraphing, spelling errors.
Graphics and/or pictures are missing.

Rating of 2
Written expression and form are average.
Language is usually appropriate to article.
Article needs more depth – length and examples.
Organization could be improved.
A few grammar, paragraphing, spelling errors.
Graphics and/or pictures are limited.

Rating of 3
Written expression and form are good.
Language is generally appropriate to article.
Article is about the right length and has examples.
Article is fairly well organized.
Only 1-2 grammar, paragraphing, spelling errors.
Graphics and/or pictures are good.

Rating of 4
Written expression and form are excellent.
Language is very appropriate to article.
Article is a perfect length and has good examples.
Article is extremely well organized.
No grammar, paragraphing, spelling errors.
Graphics and/or pictures are excellent.

Please share your ideas with me  via e-mail.

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