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
    Mike K, 15 Jun 2008 @ 7:28am

    Process vs Product

    High school newspapers and by extension college papers are really more geared toward providing value via the process than the finished product. It is the process of creating the product that teaches and informs.

    In terms of product, HS newspapers have been obsolete for years, but there is no replacement for teaching and learning via acceptance of responsibility, deadlines, teamwork and pride in the work, not to mention the myriad of technical skills learned by the participating students.

    It is important to realize that free speech is not guaranteed within the walls of the standard high school institution. Nor is it guaranteed in today's corporate owned media empires. It is the permanence of the printed word that sets it apart from any online publication. With this permanence comes the need for greater due diligence with regard to the actual content, content that ultimately is the responsibility of the school whose name is attached to the publication.

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