Online newspapers

Lesson overview

Learning Area:English, Languages, Humanities and social sciences
Age Group:Primary Upper (10-12) – Secondary Lower (13-14)


Students analyse different styles of online newspapers, with a focus on the similarities between different cultural, religious and geographic groups. Students discuss the common issues presented in online newspapers across Australia.


Students are introduced to online newspapers identifying local and national titles from a range of cultural, religious and geographic communities. By comparing content students note the similarities rather than the differences in the types of texts published and the subject matter that people of all backgrounds are interested in. Some analysis of structure, genre and language is included. 

Suggested activities

Discuss differences between national and community papers.

  • What community newspapers are available in your area?
  • Brainstorm the various newspapers and the different groups of people that these newspapers service.
  • Consider different community newspapers nationally, particularly those of diverse cultural, religious and geographic groups.
  • Who are the audiences for these community newspapers?
  • Introduce the concept of ONLINE NEWSPAPERS.
  • Consider why people may choose to read a paper online.
    (Note: not all newspapers have an online edition) See Australian Newspapers Online

Group activity

  1. Divide class into groups of 3 or 4. and distribute Worksheet 1.
  2. Each group chooses an online newspaper to study and appoints a scribe and a presenter.
  3. Students visit their online newspaper and respond to the worksheet questions. These responses will be presented to the other groups later.
  4. Once the worksheets are completed bring students together to discuss the content of each online newspaper.

Group presentations

  1. Using their groups’ worksheet responses the presenters describe their online newspapers to the class
  2. On butchers paper the teacher lists the most common text types, themes and content included in the online newspapers.
  3. By comparing the various online newspapers from different cultural, religious and geographic backgrounds students recognize the similarities as well as the differences.
    By analysing these online newspapers the common interests, fears and the need for people to belong to a community may become evident.

The format of a newspaper is usually quite rigid and includes the masthead on the front page, a main headline plus one or two other headlines with articles. In contrast online newspapers do not necessarily follow the same format, and variations appear in different online newspapers. As a class students discuss the design of the various online newspapers presented to the class using the following guide:

  • ease of navigation including number of clicks required to access different areas
  • organisation of different sections within the online newspaper
  • impact of the logo design and use of colour. How important is this when designing and building an online newspaper?
  • impact of the advertising. Does it detract from the content? Is it appropriate for the audience of the online newspaper?
  • appeal of the font and images
  • use of features not available to hard copy newspapers e.g. video clips and sound bites.

Students then vote on the best of the online newspapers presented.

Distribute Worksheet 2. Students read through the questions and discuss responses before individually writing responses.

  • As a class discuss the questions on the worksheet.
  • Look at the online newspapers together to highlight the differences in the use of language.
  • Ask students to write down the cultural, religious and local events reported on or advertised in the online newspaper.
  • Student may then research these events and prepare a presentation about an upcoming or recent event in their local community.
  • Ask students to brainstorm the cultural, religious or local events that are promoted in the online newspaper.
  • Make a list of these events and discuss the relevance to each group. Draw on the knowledge that students bring to the classroom and their understanding of the significance of these events.
  1. Students prepare a homepage for a new online newspaper. In small groups select a cultural, religious or geographic community, outline the focus of the newspaper and using the other online newspapers as a guide, create a mock Homepage.
  2. Create a poster promoting one of the cultural, religious or geographic events seen in the online newspapers. Consider the use of a logo, colour, design, appropriate information and how it is promoted to different communities.