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Doing a News Analysis

  • First, find a newspaper article that you have reason to believe was generated as part of a public relations publicity campaign. Your news article must be from a Chicago newspaper. Use your imagination as to whose PR campaign it might be a part of (I'm not going to second-guess you, unless it's a train wreck!)

  • Photocopy the article onto an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet -- if it doesn't fit, it's not critical, so long as I can see most of the headline and read the first few paragraphs... online students can find the online version (for example, at, or what's important is that you give me the article on 8-1/2x11 paper (or online) -- not the original clipping. (Online students can do the assignment via email and supply a link to the story -- or they can bring me a hard copy.)

  • Then do a one-page analysis, "filling in the blanks" for the following questions:

    1. In the upper left hand corner: Your name, and the date the assignment is due.

    2. Article headline, source, and date

    3. The 5 W's --

      • Who is the story about? (Do you think this person could be the PR source of the story?)

      • What are they doing (or having done to them?)

      • Where is it all happening?

      • When did it or will it take place?

      • Why is it happening? -- How is it significant?

    4. The Message -- -- in a nutshell, what is the story trying to say? ...and since we have identified this as the successful result of a press release, What was the take-home point that the PR writer wanted you to understand?

As you can see, this will all fit simply on a single typewritten page.