Introduction | Lesson Objectives | Tools & Materials | Time Needed | Relevant National Standards | Teaching Strategy | Assessment Recommendations | Extensions, Adaptations, Further Resources

When the government of Athens became a democracy in 507 BC, it set in motion a chain of events that would revolutionize not just the city, but the entire Greek world. Inspired by the freedom and openness of Athenian society, people from all over the known world traveled here to discover more about the city and its people.

Working in small groups, students will work produce sections of an historical newspaper or journal for publication in democratic Athens. Using the resources of this Web site (as well as books and other resources listed in the Research Links & Resources Page) pick an approximate date and research stories for your newspaper. This section has been tailored for a newspaper about Athens during the time of Pericles, because of the greater amount of information available for that period. However, with some adaptation and additional research it would be possible to compile newspapers for early or later periods.

Lesson Objectives
Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Use the resources of the Internet to research news or feature stories.
  • Analyze, research and prioritize information.
  • Gain an insight into some of the processes involved in producing a newspaper or magazine.
  • Discover more about the everyday lives of the ancient Greeks and the similarities and differences they share with the lifestyles of people today.
  • Students will gain an understanding of key events in the development of democracy in Athens as well as gain an understanding of the culture in which those events occurred.

    Tools & Materials
    Students will also need access to appropriate materials for producing the newspaper e.g. Internet access, textbooks, handouts/printouts, paper, colored pens, etc. Students will also need access to the Web pages from this site listed in the Extensions, Adaptations, Further Resources section below.

    The following part of the documentary will also be useful for gaining an insight into Athens at its height:

    Starts: 1.20.10 'The Athenians were now looking for a leader…'
    Ends: 1.34.53 '…would hold a bitter sting.'

    Time Needed
    This project should take approximately 5 hours (an hour for introducing the resources of the Web site, selecting groups and assigning topics, two hours for researching 'stories', and one to two hours to write up and produce it).

    Relevant National Standards
    This activity addresses the Standards in Historical Thinking for Grades 5-12 developed by the National Center for History in the Schools.

    Teaching Strategy
    Ask students to look at a selection of newspapers and list the main sections or features common to all (or most).

    Small groups of students should then be assigned topics from the list below (example stories are given in brackets).

    1. News and Current Affairs (e.g. Pericles Dies - Popular Assembly in Uproar!)
    2. Editorial Section and Letters to the Editor (e.g. letters for and against Pericles)
    3. Entertainment & Arts Section (e.g. a review of a famous/prize-winning tragedy)
    4. Sports Section (e.g. report from the most recent Olympics)
    5. Advertisements (e.g. pottery, seafood, shipwrights, masons, etc.)
    6. Weather Report (e.g. Zeus causes yet another terrible storm!)
    7. Gossip Column (e.g. Who will succeed Pericles as leader of Athens?)
    8. Astrology Column (e.g. latest prophesies from the Oracle of Delphi)
    9. Obituaries (e.g. invent an obituary for a hoplite infantryman who excelled at the Battle of Marathon).
    Students should use this Web site (suggested pages are listed below) to gather information about their subject and make 'journalistic' notes. From these they should write their column, ideally on a computer using a word processing package that allows them to alter fonts, type size, and column widths. These can then be amalgamated into one newspaper on the computer, of if preferred, printed out individually and assembled by hand by cutting out and sticking the articles on to cardboard 'templates'.

    Teachers should act as an 'executive editor' and create a real 'newspaper atmosphere' by setting deadlines, negotiating word limits, encouraging discussion about content. (This could become an integral part of the process with students being asked to judge whether the newspaper should print any controversial opinions - remember there was no First Amendment in Athens and a slandered aristocrat might drag the offending journalist or newspaper through the courts if something it prints is offensive or unsubstantiated. The normal charge in such cases would be 'corruption of the city's youth'. )

    Assessment Recommendations
    Greek Newspaper Grading Criteria
    News Story
  • Answers basic information questions "what-where-when-why-who-how?"
  • Interviewed eye-witness
  • Background information given
  • Accurate, well researched
  • In the style of a newsreporter Editorial & Letter to the Editor
  • Gives two distinct points of view
  • Gives reasons for point of view and has convincing arguments
  • Related to the main news article Entertainment Review
  • Accurate according to the time
  • Describes event with good detail
  • Gives a point of view/opinion in the style of a critic. Sports Report
  • Accurate according to the time
  • Describes event with good detail
  • In the style of a reporter Want Ads / Advertisements
  • Identifies objects for sale appropriate to that time
  • Describes object/gives qualities
  • Uses techniques of persuasion Other Articles
    Appearance / Neatness
    General Writing Skills:
  • Spelling
  • Capital letters
  • Punctuation (periods, commas quotations)
  • Paragraphing

    Extensions, Adaptations, Further Resources
    It is suggested that stories for this section are gathered by a full exploration of this Web site. Other potential sources of additional information are suggested in the Research Links & Resources Page page.

    The following pages of this Web site are suggested as starting points for a newspaper project set during the era of Pericles (as in the suggested stories above):

    What the Olympic Games were actually like
    The Olympic Games - The Events
    The Oracle at Delphi (c.1400 BC: Oracle of Delphi founded)
    The Tactics Used At Marathon
    The Tactics Used At Marathon/ continued
    The Different Types of Greek Drama and Their Importance
    The Great Playwrights of Athens' 'Golden Age'
    Delian League (Event Page: 454 BC - Delian League's treasury moves to Athens)
    The Buildings of the Acropolis
    The Parthenon (Event Page: 438 BC - The Parthenon Completed)
    Inside the Parthenon
    The Sophists (Event Page: c.460 - New thinkers arrive in Athens)
    The Streets of Athens
    The Populace of Athens
    The Populace of Athens - Slaves
    The Populace of Athens - Metics
    The Populace of Athens - Women
    The Populace of Athens - Freemen
    The Houses of Athens
    The Agora
    The Colonus Agoraeus
    Leisured Life: The Gymnasia
    Leisured Life: The Theatre
    Pericles' Funeral Oration in Depth
    Intellectual Life in Athens during its height
    The Historians
    Greek Women: Marriage and Divorce
    Hetaira and Courtesans
    Women and Myth