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Is the high school newspaper dead?

4 years ago writer Parenting + Technology London, UK

Nope, far from it! Some of you may even remember using galleys and hot wax to create newspapers, so you will be gratified to learn than school papers are not defunct. And they are not all online, either.

In 2011, researchers at Kent State’s Center for Scholastic Journalism, did a study on the ‘media presence’ in American public high schools. Some 96% of public high schools have some media created by students, although mostly yearbooks.

Despite today’s kids being half-machine, only a third of high schools have put publications online.

Actually, this is facilitated by services such as, an outfit out of Minnesota with 1,000 online papers, all but 80 from high schools. For a fee, the service helps schools prepare for digital journalism and put up sites on Wordpress. The content is customized by the students.

Also available is a free training service from the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) located in Columbia, Missouri. LeAnne Wiseman directs the group’s high school journalism programs, which train teachers and advisers in news literacy. The emphasis is on source reliability, separating fact from opinion, gathering facts and information, and synthesizing from multiple sources. ‘Ask who said it,’ Wiseman told ‘Is the person biased?’

School papers are no longer gossip sheets covering clubs, sports, and school elections. ASNE provides a national edition, selecting 35 top stories from high school papers around the country, which can be used in other papers - topics such as diabetes and how to download music legally.

Other issues that enter the debate at the high school level are censorship (by pecksniffian school administrators, for example), diversity, and the role of the social media (say in bullying).

Check out My High School Journalism to see various papers and the subjects youngsters are covering across America. The service has 4,000 papers online right now.

ASNE’s style, by the way, is ‘blogging’ format. So much for waxing galleys. That was kind of messy, anyway.

Star Lawrence, a medical reporter based in Chandler AZ, was editor of The Beacon at Kirkwood High School outside St. Louis in the distant wayback. She became a reporter, but in the course of this research, learned that often school paper editors have no such plans and don’t see their school journalism stint as a stepping stone to greatness.

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