A school newspaper is a publication produced solely by a school's students. The student newspaper staff is usually led by a teacher who sponsors the group. The teacher serves as an adviser and helps to organize the students so they can produce the publication in a timely, efficient manner.
School newspapers exist to encourage students' interest in journalism careers. If a school decides to start a newspaper for its students, it must first designate a newspaper staff sponsor. After the sponsor is chosen, students can apply or volunteer to be a member of the newspaper staff. In order to produce a school publication, the newspaper staff must have access to a word processing program, some sort of camera, and a copier or printing company. Enlisting the services of a commercial printing company can often be expensive unless the newspaper can solicit paid advertising.
Elementary, middle, and high schools have the ability to run their own newspaper publications. Depending on the grade level of students, newspapers can include a variety of sections. For example, typical high school newspapers include sections featuring the news, human interest stories, sports, book and movie reviews, comics, puzzles, poetry, and advice columns. Some newspapers feature Letters to the Editor, permitting questions or comments from the readers of the publication.
As stated before, to offset the expense of creating a newspaper, some schools accept paid advertisements from local businesses. The money the newspaper receives from local businesses helps to pay for the services of a printing company. If the school doesn't have the funds to hire a printing company, the school uses a copier to churn out copies of the school newspaper.
Student reporters write about a variety of topics for the newspaper. The write about school assemblies, activities within school classrooms, members of the student body with interesting hobbies, or anything else that may be of interest to the readers. Whatever they decide to write, the newspaper staff learns to use the five W's in their writing process: who, what, where, when, and why.
Writing for the school newspaper can be part of an English class or an extra-curricular activity. Many students who write for the newspaper decide they want to eventually become professional journalists. Other writers have no desire to seek a career in journalism; they only enjoy writing for the sake of writing. No matter what career a student reporter eventually decides upon, she gains valuable experience working for the school newspaper.
How To Write a Newspaper Article for School
Writing a newspaper article for school is similar to writing an article for a major publication. Here are the basic steps for writing an informative, attention-holding article:
- Create a short, action-filled headline.
- Summarize the story at the top of the article (but don’t reveal the ending!)
- Keep paragraphs short (typically under five sentences).
- Quote at least one person involved in the event or policy analysis, if possible.
- Base your story on facts, or state clearly whenever you are describing an opinion.
- Use a visual aid if appropriate, such as a photo, drawing, graph, or chart.
Follow the fundamental rules of journalism when writing. Use third-person pronouns (he, she, they, it), and the appropriate tense (past tense if the event has already happened, present tense if the event is taking place currently, and future tense if you are anticipating an event).
Should Schools Have a School Newspaper?
Every school can benefit from having some sort of medium through which students can learn about current events in the world and happenings within the school, all told from the perspective of their cohorts. However, a printed newspaper may not be the most appropriate medium. Other formats may be more accessible and preferable, such as:
- TikTok stories
- Facebook pages
Students in schools that don't have any outlets for sharing news are less likely to be engaged with current events. Furthermore, these students are deprived of a forum through which they can express their thoughts and feelings about school policies and happenings.
Should School Newspapers Be Censored?
Censorship of school newspapers inherently deprives students of the right to speak freely and be heard by their peers and teachers. That being said, a small amount of censorship may be necessary to ensure that students and faculty feel safe as possible. Censorship may be necessary to prevent:
- Bullying or harassment of other students
- Libel against faculty that could cause loss of employment
- Unnecessary discomfort, as in an article intended to elicit shock or disgust
- Illegal activity such as underage pornographic content or sales of illegal substances
Censorship should never be used by the school administration to discourage students from expressing their opinions on school rules or policies. To do this is to encourage authoritarianism, which is inherently damaging to students and faculty alike. Unfortunately, censorship is used exactly for this reason — to unnecessarily maintain authority by discouraging dissent.
How To Conduct an Interview for a School Newspaper Article
Interviews are a great way to gather information about local events. The difference between a good interview and a bad one can depend on how it is conducted. Here are a couple of guidelines for getting a good interview out of someone.
Informing interviewees as to how their words will be used and where they will appear ensures that people are more likely to be comfortable speaking to you. If your interviewee thinks you are trying to make him or her sound uninformed or wrong, he or she will not want to speak freely.
Make sure interviewees are also comfortable physically — offer a seat if possible, and water if it is available. Try to interview in a quiet space so the other person can hear and be heard by you. If it is cold or hot, try to move into a more comfortable space. If the interviewee is uncomfortable physically, he or she may offer brief answers in an attempt to hurry through the interview and get it over with. A comfortable interviewee is more likely to contribute to your project.