The Washington Post MAGAZINE Informs and Inspires

(Larry Fogel/The Washington Post)
The Washington Post Magazine informs, entertains and provides new perspectives and approaches to better living. Scholastic journalists can find models and inspiration to enhance their community coverage.
Download Classroom Worksheets (PDF) 

“Telling the stories of the Washington region” and providing a world of experience, The Washington Post MAGAZINE informs, entertains and provides new perspectives and approaches to better living on a weekly basis.


Numbers are crunched, neighborhoods are highlighted and people are introduced. Standing columns provide continuity from week to week as feature articles add the elements of discovery, expanded horizons and critical thinking. Readers engage in both solitary and shared experiences.


Scholastic journalists can be inspired to create photo essays, to interview individuals for the short Just Asking or for longer articles, or to research their neighborhoods for a Street Smart-inspired snapshot. The tech savvy could create a column about apps that would appeal to their school community. With some planning two to four special issues could be planned where the columns, feature articles and advertising revolve around a theme.


At the heart of the Magazine are a collection of the people in the D.C. metropolitan area and human-interest stories.


September 2015


By Sunday Magazine Writers
Resource Graphic 

Help Gene Weingarten
English, Social Studies, U.S. History

Columnist, feature writer and daily newspaper comic strip writer, Gene Weingarten is calling on readers for help. He pulled a month, a day and a year out of a hat. Now he plans to write a book about that date. He has researched the public records for that day.


Read more about the project. Check your diary. Talk to your parents — if it’s the day you were born, had your tonsils removed or got the long-awaited first kiss or pet — start writing.


Teachers, you could use this concept for your class. Put the 12 months in a box. In another container place the numbers one through 31. You and your class can determine the time span that they wish to research — the years they have lived,  the oldest parents’ birth year to present — you get the idea. Pull the three slips from the containers and put on your thinking hats on where to begin the research.


Reflect on the News
Journalism, Media Literacy, U.S. History

Before beginning this activity, teachers should introduce students to the definition of “news” and the “lead” of a story.


Introduce students to a basic concept: News can be personal, community, regional, national and international in scope. People must determine if personal events and actions merit sharing. This is harder to distinguish in the era of tweets, Facebook and other social media. After giving an introduction to this concept, teachers could ask students to share their summer news.


Ask students if any of the personal news that was shared is also community news. Did any students work on community projects, participate in competitive sports or travel to unusual places? Select several pieces of information to write as a news lead.


Give students “What Was This Summer’s News?” This e-Replica activity begins with students’ recollection of important stories of the previous months. If they cannot think of stories that made the news, form teams to review each week’s news during June, July and August. Discuss which are significant news and place them in the categories given.


Which of these might be interesting as feature stories that give the human-interest aspect of the news? That profile individuals and places? That need to be placed in historic and contemporary perspective?

Develop Vocabulary
English, Reading, Media Literacy

This month’s Word Study focuses on the meaning of “magazine.” Give students “What a Collection!” to read.

For more on the invention of magazines for arms, see the Washington Post article, “The history of magazines holding 11 or more rounds: Amicus brief in 9th Circuit.” 


Take Inventory
English, Media Literacy, Reading

Knowing where to locate information about the content within a publication is a skill to be honed. “Take Inventory,” a hunt for information and response to design elements, takes students into an issue of the Magazine.


In addition to answering the questions in “Take Inventory,” teachers could ask students to analyze the standing column for audience, purpose and kind of activity (solitary, interactive, both). Brainstorm how one of the columns might be modified for your student media.

Meet Sunday Magazine Writers
Resource Graphic 

Take a Second Glance
Art, Career Education, Media Arts, Photography
One of the most popular features of the Magazine is the Second Glance column. Each week readers are challenged to find 12 differences between two versions of the same photograph. Before giving students a Second Glance challenge, give them "Take a Second Glance," an interview with Randy Mays, the photo/graphic editor.


Readers may submit their photographs for consideration as a Second Glance challenge image. Give students "How to Select a Second Glance Image" for some guidelines. Additional requirements are found online.


Be an Art Director
Art, Career Education, English, Visual Arts 

Teachers begin by asking students if they have every wondered about who decides on the visuals (photographs and illustrations) on a page. Give students copies of the Magazine. Review the different kinds of graphics and count the number of photographs in an issue. What would the Magazine be like without the photographs and illustrations?


Give students “Make an Illustration Assignment.” Carol Porter, art director/designer and art editor of The Post’s NIE curriculum resource guides, shares the process of going from written content to illustration and layout design. Discuss the art director’s job and the illustrator’s job.


Which illustrations do students like best in the Magazine? In their favorite magazines? Is it the illustration or photograph alone or how the visual element(s) work with the written content?


Give students “What Illustration Would You Assign?” Students are given five pieces to brainstorm what they assign an artist or photographer. Each is based in a real piece that appeared in The Washington Post Magazine. Teachers are provided the “answers,” the decision of what the Magazine’s art director and illustrators produced, including the particular issue in which they appeared.


Meet Children and Face an Issue
Character Education, English, Journalism, Media Arts

David Montgomery, Sunday Magazine staff writer, wrote two pieces on children who came to live in the metropolitan area. Before giving “Departures” to be read, teachers may wish to define the following terms: “deport,” “detention,” “illegal,” “immigration,” “integration,” “legal,” “mental shift,” “refugee,” and “U.S. Border Patrol.”


Discussion could include
• What do all the children have in common?
• What details help you to meet each of the individuals? To distinguish them?
• Select one of the children. What do you know about his or her background before departing for America?
• When you compare and contrast the stories, what do their journeys to the D.C. area have in common? What differs?
• With whom do the children live when the profiles were written?
• What do students think will happen to each of these children? What do they think should happen to them?


After students have read and discussed “Departures,” give them “A Year in America” to read. Both Montgomery and Post photographer Bonnie Jo Mount have returned to the six children to see what has happened to them in a year.

• What do students know about the six students who are profiled?
• Select the same student they selected in “Departures.” What has happened to him or her in a year? Changes?
• In what ways do the photographs in both selections help to tell their stories?
• Do any students in your class or school have similar stories of coming to America?
• Does knowing someone who has made the journey influence personal beliefs about what is legal and illegal? What should happen to children who have made the journey to America alone or with their parents?


Read About Magazines

Write a Photo Essay
Art, English, Journalism, Media Arts, Photography

When photographs and essay are prepared together to tell a story, to capture a place or convey a mood, a photo essay is produced. These can be one-, two-, and multi-spread features in a publication. They are ideal for student literary-art magazines. 

Teachers give students "Picture the Story,"  "The Photo Essay" and "Write a Photo Essay" from Visual Impact the January 2012 curriculum guide. "A singular solstice" by Joel Achenbach is an example of a photo essay that is included in the same guide. After discussing qualities of the photo essay, teachers may assign individuals , pairs or teams to create a photo essay.

Be a Freelance Writer: Pitch a Story
English, Journalism, Media Arts
To media, making a “pitch” means to present a proposal for an article, a segment of a show or a series. A pitch must be persuasive, convincing the editor that the idea is newsworthy and worth the time and investment required. As reporters and/or photographers make the pitch, they are also indicating if they are capable of producing it on budget and on schedule.

Teachers should discuss the qualities of ineffective and effective pitches. Give students the first page of “Making the Pitch.” After students have had time to read the examples and revised one of the pitches to improve it, have students share their “better” pitches. Teachers may wish to point out where the approach is improved and why it is still not persuasive.

Give students the second page of “Making the Pitch” that provides more effective pitches. As you read through the examples, ask students to share the questions they would ask the person making the pitch to ensure it has news value, advances a story, provides insight or investigates an issue clearly, that safety and technical concerns have been considered, and it has a relationship or appeal to your readers and listeners.


Teachers may form story/production teams. Each team is to brainstorm ideas for a story to report in your student media. What would be original and of interest to your student body and faculty? When they have decided on the story they most want to cover, each group is to create a pitch to present to the class or to the newspaper’s print and online editors. Include how they will use written, spoken and visual language to provide information.


Pitch to The Post
English, Journalism, Media Arts, Reading, Social Studies
Teachers could discuss with students events that are taking place in your community or national anniversaries to be celebrated in the academic year. Which of these has a local angle that would make an interesting feature? Brainstorm the pitch you would make to the Magazine editor.


Another approach is to know the special issues that might have a local, human-interest focus. In January the Magazine will look at Health/Obesity, in February, special issues will focus on Dating and on Education. April offers another Education Issue with advertorials on private schools.


Teachers are encouraged to keep issues of the Magazine in your classrooms in a reading corner. There are many high interest articles and columns to encourage reading.



Plan Ahead
English, Journalism, Media Arts, Social Studies

The news department of a media company must be ready to respond immediately to events and breaking news. The news cycle, with its Internet presence, is 24/7. The features and style writers often have the luxury of time to interview, photograph and reflect on the focus of their pieces. BUT they must meet deadlines.


In September, the Magazine staff has a calendar that has special issues and editorial content in place through December of the following year. For the January 3 Magazine, special sections close on November 25, are due complete on December 4. This is advance planning.


Teachers could discuss the difference between news and feature coverage, the advantages of planning ahead for both content and advertising, and the benefits to writers (also the art director, photo editor, and layout/design editor) to be working on pieces months in advance.


In addition to the designated topics, there are many issues that are open to original pieces. What do you wish could be covered about your neighborhood? Who is overlooked, but plays an important role in your school community? 

Resource Graphic 
In The Know 

Body copy  The written words or text of the actual story. Also called "copy."
Cutline The line(s) that explain a photograph — either the people in the photograph, the action taking place and/or context of what is pictured.
Design The look and function; the purpose and planning behind such things as pages, articles, garments and buildings
Editor The person who helps to develop and then edits stories for accuracy in reporting and clarity of expression
Essay Short piece of writing on a particular subject, usually presenting the author’s own views
Feature article

Human interest story that reports on people, events, culture and special topics. Often not time sensitive, it gets its appeal through a wide range of topics and writer’s style. Feature stories are found in every section of the newspaper and The Post’s Magazine.

Font Printable text characters in a specific style and size; typeface and variations that form a typeface family
Human interest Quality that engages the attention and emotions of a reader or viewer; aspect that enables identification with the people, problems and situations
Layout The physical arrangement of text, photographs, headlines and other content on a page
Photo editor Gives assignments to photographers. With the photographer, the photo editor selects the photographs that appear in the publication.

ANSWERS. What Illustration Would You Assign?

There is no one correct answer for the five different articles. Below is the decision made by the art director, photo editor and magazine editor for each selection. Teachers may locate the pieces online or through e-Replica to see the layout and design decisions.

1. Since this short piece is about an activity that has taken place on Meridian Hill for years, photographs that capture the drums and dancers and even those who watch would be best. Let readers meet the people who keep this tradition alive. This is an example of a photo essay.

     [Photo essay by Jahi Chikwendiu, “Rhythm of the City,” August 31, 2014, pages 16-19]

2. Since there are eight short descriptions on two pages, it could be argued that one illustration would be better than eight small photographs to unite the spread. Elements in a mixed media collage could include special flowers or other features from selected gardens.

     [Story by Megan McDonough, Illustration by Justina Blakeney, “All varieties: Exploring the Richmond Garden Trail,” March 22, 2015, pages 40-41]

3. The main illustration and pull quotation (outtake) art reflect the pop art of the 1950s, a focus on the “head/mind” and curved typography reflect the mood and time period. The photograph of Roland Griffiths on the second spread is tinted to reflect the colors found in the illustration.
[Excerpt from Acid Test by Tom Shroder, "'Acid Test': The case for using psychedelics to treat PTSD, depression," September 4, 2014]

4. Although it could be argued that illustrations would both protect the identity and show the spirit of the children from El Salvador and Guatemala, photographs would be better to document them. The real names, ages and story of the children will be in print. The statistics need to be made real through their photographs.

     [Profiles by David Montgomery and Photographs by Bonnie Jo Mount, “Departures,” August 24, 2014, pages 26-31]

5. Graphics were the combined work of Varinia Telleria, Laris Karklis and Samuel Granados. They used a folk art approach with a map upon which one-dimensional memorials and people represent significant events.

     [“Immortal Reflection,” September 20, 2015, pages 10-27]

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

The District of Columbia has adopted the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics. In addition, DCPS has adopted new learning standards in arts, health and physical education, science, social studies, technology and world languages.



Academic Content Standards may be found at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

English: The student will comprehend and interpret a variety of print, non-print and electronic texts, and other media (ECLG Standard 1) The student will

• Predict the contributions of text features (e.g., sidebars, time lines, charts, subheadings, diagrams, illustrations, photographs) to the meaning of the text

• Predict the development of topics, ideas, events, and/or themes that might logically occur in the text (ECLG 1.1.1)


English: The student will analyze and evaluate a variety of print, non-print and electronic texts, and other media (ECLG Standard 2)

• Analyze the author's use of episodic, non-linear, or other non-traditional narrative structures (grades 11-12)

• Analyze the effect of patterns of organization and their relationship to author's purpose (grades 11-12)

• Analyze the effectiveness of organization and structure in accomplishing a purpose (grades 11-12)


English: The student will compose in a variety of modes by developing content, employing specific forms, and selecting language appropriate for a particular audience and purpose. (ECLG Standard 3)

The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at 

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

English: The student will learn how media messages are constructed and for what purposes.
a) Differentiate between auditory, visual, and written media messages.
b) Identify the characteristics and effectiveness of a variety of media messages (Grade 5, 5.3)


English: The student will produce, analyze, and evaluate auditory, visual and written media messages.
b) Determine the purpose of the media message and its effect on the audience.
d) Evaluate sources including advertisements, editorial, and feature stories for relationships between intent and factual content. (Communication: Speaking, Listening, Media Literacy 9.2)


English: The student will apply knowledge of word origins, derivations, and figurative language to extend vocabulary development in authentic texts. (Reading 9.3)


English: The student will read, comprehend, and analyze a variety of literary texts including narratives, narrative nonfiction, poetry, and drama.
a) Identify author’s main idea and purpose.
b) Summarize text relating supporting details.
g) Analyze the cultural or social function of a literary text.

Virginia, U.S. History: The student will demonstrate economic, social, cultural and political developments in recent decades and today (VUS.15)

Academic Content Standards may be found at

Common Core Standards 

English Language Arts/Informational Text. Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.3)


English Language Arts/Reading Informational Text. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6)


English Language Arts/Anchor Standards, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7)


English Language Arts Standards/Science & Technical Subjects, Craft and Structure. Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.6)


Common Core standards may be found at