Are High School Newspapers Obsolete?

from the just-go-online dept

When I was in high school years ago, I was both an editor for the school newspaper and a co-founder/editor of an "underground" newspaper that a group of friends put together to compete with the official school newspaper (it probably won't surprise folks to find out my first article for the underground paper was an examination of why an underground newspaper is perfectly legal and can't be prevented by a school administration). Both experiences were quite useful (and fun), but with so much talk these days of the challenges facing the normal newspaper industry, is it worth it for high schools to still publish newspapers? After all, these days, students who want to report on what's going on in a school no longer need the "sanctioned" press, thanks to the internet.

What got me thinking about this was reading an article about a high school principal who decided to shut down the high school's newspaper (via Romenesko) after he got offended by an editorial on flag burning that included a photo of a student burning a flag. The whole thing seemed ridiculous -- because there's nothing to stop the students from taking the content, and putting it all online and not needing any stamp of approval from the school administration.

Obviously, there's something to be said for the learning experience that can be provided by working together on a project, and the potential mentoring of a school newspaper advisor (though if I remember correctly, our advisor didn't actually do much), but that could just as easily be done through other means, including classes/extra-curricular activities focusing on helping students create their own content for online purposes, rather than under the umbrella of any official school newspaper.

Filed Under: high school newspapers, newspapers


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  1. icon
    whitneymcn (profile), 13 Jun 2008 @ 9:07am

    More on the learning experience

    I'd completely forgotten about this: I was the managing editor of my high school paper for a year or two, and during that time one of the regularly scheduled "free speech in student newspapers" made the news.

    The editors of a number of high school papers in the NYC area (including me) were invited to appear on some teen-focused discussion show, talking about the issue with school principals and administrators.

    As I recall, I went off on a bit of a rant about how we were supposed to be developing judgment and responsibility in this process, and that heavy-handed editorial oversight from school administration made a joke of that process.

    I also recall that I was pretty much edited out of the version that actually aired, so I guess there was another lesson of sorts to be learned there. :)


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