“When a Dog Bites a Man”: Using eMediaVA Resources to Teach “What Is News?”

There’s an old saying that goes like this: When a dog bites a man, that’s not news. When a man bites a dog, now that’s news!

Back when I used to teach journalism at St. Margaret’s School, in Tappahannock, Virginia, I often used this saying to stress the importance of being able to distinguish between what news is, and what it isn’t. In our modern news media world, with sound bites, tweets, chats, etc., coming from everywhere and from anybody, 24 hours a day, we all need to be able to sift through the constant barrage of information to discover what is newsworthy.

If you are looking for a concise, informative, and interactive way to teach students about what makes something newsworthy, then you should check out eMediaVA’s “What Is News?” lesson. This handy resource contains a short BBC My World video to capture your students’ attention, while also giving them a quick history lesson on news, from handwritten manuscripts to digital feeds. In addition to the video, eMediaVA provides you with a complete lesson plan that gives students the opportunity to investigate the purposes, characteristics, and role of news. Supplemental materials include a student handout to check their media literacy and for you to assess what they have learned.


The “What Is News?” lesson is just one of many resources from eMediaVA that you can use to teach students about news and news media literacy. Just go to eMediaVA and start searching. You will be amazed (and a little overwhelmed) by what you will find. 

And in case you didn’t know, Global Media and Information Literacy Week is Oct. 24-31. To find out more, there’s a great global media literacy rabbit hole waiting for you at  https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/globalmilweek.

Dale Harter is a librarian at Matoaca High School in Chesterfield County and an eMediaVA Teacher Ambassador.

Connect with Us

Sign up for great resources, timely notifications, and more!