How would I write a news report on the Tom Robinson trial with the title "Negro man found guilty" from To Kill a Mockingbird?

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As you approach this assignment, consider first the report's title, which will help in developing your tone and compiling details. The wording "Negro man found guilty" indicates an article written by a party who cares more about the color of Tom's skin and the verdict of the trial than about...

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As you approach this assignment, consider first the report's title, which will help in developing your tone and compiling details. The wording "Negro man found guilty" indicates an article written by a party who cares more about the color of Tom's skin and the verdict of the trial than about truth and justice. A news report using this title would quite possibly include racial stereotypes about Tom and sensational details about why he is obviously guilty; if your aim is to write a piece that reflects these sentiments, the tone and contents of Mr. Ewell's testimony will be particularly helpful.

If your goal is to present unbiased journalism, it is important to balance the Ewells' accusations with Tom's testimony, which Scout and the jury find convincing, despite the guilty verdict issued in the racist atmosphere of Maycomb. A truly unbiased spectator would consider contrasting accounts equally, weighing Mr. Ewell's claims against Atticus's suggestion that Tom could not have been Mayella's attacker due to the discrepancy between his crippled left arm and the location of her injuries. Atticus scandalously names Mr. Ewell as the likely culprit during the trial, which aligns with the circumstantial details of Mayella's attack and would be an important component of a well-rounded news report.

An article about this sensational trial should inform readers of the details surrounding Mayella's accusations against Tom, the trial testimony of various witnesses, the actions of important parties in the courtroom, including the jury, lawyers, and judge, as well as the jury's verdict. An unbiased article would include a title more in the vein of "Guilty verdict in Robinson trial," rather than "Negro man found guilty," since this latter choice calls unnecessary attention to Tom's race and deliberately assaults his character. In approaching this assignment, you may find it necessary to either write from the viewpoint of a biased spectator in order to best align your article with its pre-selected title, or to suggest alternative titles in a footnote, if your desire is for the report to be unbiased and fully informed.

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A news article should tell who, what, when, where, why and how.

When you summarize the trial, you should focus on who was accused, what they were accused of, and by whom they were accused.

Who was accused:  Tom Robinson

What was he accused of: Robinson is accused of raping a white woman.

Who accused him:  Mayella Ewell accused Tom Robinson.

During the trial, almost everyone in Maycomb attended.  You might use a quote from the book to show that the trial was crowded.

"Scout, come on, there ain't a seat left. We'll hafta stand up." (ch 16)

During the trial, Bob Ewell testifies that he heard Mayella screaming and came running and saw Tom Robinson raping her.  Atticus cross-examines him and asks if he is left-handed.  He is trying to prove that Tom Robinson could not have committed the crime.

When Tom Robinson testifies, he demonstrates that he is crippled, so he could not have physically given Mayella her injuries.  He also says he helped her because he felt sorry for her.  Mr. Gilmer repeats this, and Tom Robinson knows he made a mistake because a black man should not feel sorry for a white woman.

Good articles should contain an interview with important people involved.  When interviewing Atticus, you might include the comment he made after the trial.

"It's not time to worry yet," Atticus reassured him, as we went to the dining room. "We're not through yet. There'll be an appeal, you can count on that…(ch 22)

When summing up your article, you might want to make a prediction for the future.  Do you agree with Atticus?  Will the guilty verdict be overturned?

 

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