Thursday, November 10, 2011

High school journalism stuck in print age

The news world may be going electronic,  but high school journalism programs still rely more on yearbooks and print papers than online reporting,  the Kent State University Center for Scholastic Journalism reports.

The 2011 Scholastic Journalism Census of more than 4,000 high schools found that 96 percent offer some kind of student journalism program, with yearbooks in 94 percent of schools and student newspapers in 64 percent.  Only one in three reported any kind of online student media.  "These data suggest many scholastic media programs are neither exposing students to the media landscape they will confront once they graduate from high school nor teaching students the skills they need to succeed in a multimedia world,"  the report says.

That's unfortunate.  Producing a student paper was painfully slow back in the 1970s; now it's even  more out of sync with the real world.  Online reporting would seem to offer cost savings, though I suspect it also requires significant staff training.

My sense is that opportunities vary widely within CMS, often based on the initiative of faculty advisers.  I recall how impressed we were in 2009,  when Alan Vitale, a teacher at the small Olympic Renaissance High,  launched a student newspaper and brought his print and web editors to visit the Observer.  On the other hand, I've heard a young friend who attends South Meck talk about her frustration that the school has no student newspaper.

Meanwhile, a high school newspaper adviser in Iowa won a free-press victory on Wednesday, when a court ruled that his principal couldn't punish him for letting students publish "offensive" items, including an April Fool spoof issue .

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