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. identicon
    Lisa, 13 Jun 2008 @ 10:08am

    High School Papers are not obsolete

    The purpose of a newspaper is to inform, give advice and opinions, showcase talented students and occasionally make people laugh. Yes, people can find these things on the internet, but I take a publications course every year in high school, and even though I'm an executive coordinator on the national award-winning yearbook, Hi-S-Potts, I take time to appreciate what my statewide award-winning newspaper, Tidelines, has to offer. The Executive-Editor-In-Chief and friend of mine has amazing talent especially writing Life&Style articles. My other friend Joey is a classically amazing food/movie/anything-in-life critic. Katelynn is a fantastic Sports writer. The layout and design (production) staff is phenomenal. The business staff keeps the paper funded by selling the vacated ad space while keeping in touch with the clients to make sure that they are satisfied. Not only does our newspaper report on life in school, but it reports on life outside school. When one of our graduates was killed in Afghanistan, they reported on it. Yes, people knew about it, but they went in-depth. They went farther than an outside source would have gone, and paid tribute to Dave, his wife and his family. Our school also replies to letters to the editor, and no matter how much the writer may disagree with the student/faculty/community member (we send copies out beyond school boundaries- alumni read it online aswell), they must deal with the complaint with tactfulness. Publications in my school also provides many travel opportunities to nationwide competitions, and while at those competitions, our adviser, the most amazing, patient, and kind person I know takes the students to EVERY landmark within a 200 mile radius.
    MTV did a real disservice to high school newspapers across the nation when it revealed "The Paper." It showed only drama, and not the success of what a high school paper can really achieve.
    Yes, as you said newspapers show students how to interact well with others, but they also teach students technology, the ability to write (at least in my school) under the Associated Press guidelines, how to communicate with clients- however happy or unhappy they may be- but most importantly, high school publications helps form tight bonds between students that no other organization can form.

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