By Leandra Trujillo, New Mexico Press Association, Albuquerque, NM
As America’s economy continues to stumble, newspapers — specifically high school publications/programs — are increasingly at risk.
Few understand how life-changing a journalism class can be for students, which can cause more public support for activities like band or football over student journalism. The immense amount of writing allows each high school journalist to grow as a writer. Some students even say their journalism class is what saved their writing skills.
“If they do cut journalism programs out of schools,” said 2012 Mesa Vista graduate Benjamin Sandoval, “it is going to affect students in New Mexico, especially here up North (where) there aren’t a lot of good English programs.”
Journalism classes similarly provide teens with important life skills beyond practical journalism. The salesmanship found in journalism is valuable, particularly since all students will sometime in their life have to sell a product or idea. The type of salesmanship found in high school newspapers gives students the confidence needed to interact professionally with the community.
Another great aspect of a high school newspaper is the way many high school students use to keep track of memories.
“It’s a historical record,” said Rick Cole, Los Lunas High School journalism teacher.
Student journalism, Cole said, is the best way to tell what has happened throughout a student’s high school life, especially since it is a monthly update.
The downfall however, is that all the benefits being drawn from high school newspapers cannot exist without proper funding. Despite the problematic economy however, journalists are still finding ways to gain support from their local communities.
Pat Graff, a retired journalism teacher of 34 years and the 1995 School Journalism Teacher of the Year said she believes “newspaper should be funded equally with every other activity.”
Budget cuts have affected funding in many areas of education, forcing some school newspapers to become online-only publications, instead of printing a traditional paper. Graff also stated that most online readership occurs when new articles are updated on a day-to-day basis. Some schools similarly increase their readership by offering little incentives to students, such as candy, for finding a hidden fact. By doing so, these high school journalists are ensuring that a paper will still exist in the future.
Another problem faced by high school journalists is that local businesses do not always realize the benefits of working with a school paper. Yes, school papers aren’t always as qualified as other papers, but they have advantages of being directly distributed to teens. If local businesses purchase ads from high school papers, they will not only be promoting their services to teens; they will also be supporting education. This bonding relationship will help keep small businesses going, and it will also help keep news alive.
With slow economies and school budgets being cut, high school newspapers are asking for even more support; not only to save a tradition, but also to help students learn and grow. As Graff said, “(high school newspapers) are the best practice for writing, communicating, and publishing in schools.”the original article from hsj.org, written by Leandra Trujillo