Every year for one week, newspapers across the country hold a ‘Newspapers in Education’ event. This year, from March 4 through the 8, will focus on teaching the youth of America not only the importance of local journalism but also how to utilize the information found within the community newspaper.
For complete information, there is no substitute for a newspaper. Television, radio and the Internet can give the news quickly. Understanding of the news usually comes, however, with the longer, more thoughtful appraisal of facts and details found only in newspaper accounts.
Younger readers quickly learn that a newspaper is more than news. It is feature articles that tell them of interesting people and activities in the community. Advice columns may provide information of value.
Advertisements serve as entertainment guides and provide style, price and utility information concerning items they are interested in buying.
Unlike the daily newspaper, the weekly newspaper provides a dimension of local news and the opportunity to relate to the student’s own life as well as the lives of family and neighbors. The closer to home a story is, the more motivation is provided to read that story. A student in your town is more apt to find his or her name in your newspaper than in a larger regional daily!
The following have been noted as specific strengths for weekly/community newspapers:
• The community newspaper can, in most cases, offer more space to local school news, features and photos because of its relationship to the community.
• Many classrooms use only one delivery of newspapers per week. A daily newspaper used for more than one day is an “old” newspaper. A weekly newspaper is the current issue for the entire week!
• Content of the weekly newspaper is more local and, therefore, less overwhelming to students. It covers their community, not the whole world. Community news is important to the functioning of our democracy because most citizen involvement occurs at the local level.
• Many community newspapers serve an area including only one or two school systems. The Cavalier County Republican serves the Langdon Area School District, Munich Public School, and St. Alphonsus Catholic School. The staff at the newspaper work closely with local educators and administrations to bring the youth of the community to the whole of the county.
• The community newspaper is geographically closer to its reading audience. The publisher, editor and staff of a community newspaper are more accessible to the public and to the local schools.
• Local sports coverage is more detailed in the local weekly newspaper. Students know and relate to local athletes. Sports coverage at the Cavalier County Republican includes not only current high school sports but area sports as well as sports history for the area. Don’t forget the great photographs provided by area photographers.
• A community newspaper can offer several days of lead-time to plan educational activities based on the content of each issue.
• A combination of peak and slack days of activity at a community newspaper makes staff members more available as a resource.
About the American Press Institute: For democracies to thrive, people need accurate information about the problems of civil society and the debates over how to solve them. That requires an economically sustainable, independent and free press that is vested in the values of verification and monitoring the powerful, and is dedicated to putting citizens first, ahead of political faction.
To remain sustainable, journalistic organizations must evolve into highly adaptive learning organizations that change with their audiences. The American Press Institute acts as a scout on the frontier of technology and audience behavior to identify where change is occurring and helping news organizations learn how to implement and scale that change successfully so they have a sustainable future.