Where have all the school newspapers gone?

May 29, 2013
School newspapers have always thrilled me. There are countless books, shows, and movies where a school has a thriving newspaper, one that breaks exciting, scandalous stories, shakes up the status quo, and enacts real change. In the fourth grade, inspired by a Sweet Valley Twins kick (Elizabeth Wakefield wrote for the school paper, you may recall), I even created a one-time newspaper for my class, with the help of a good friend (and the free copies her mother was able to make for us at her office!). While my drive to be a part of a serious newspaper continued, my high school, alas, did not have one of those kinds of papers. We had one, sure, but it was small — maybe three issues per year? — and I remember thinking, as I wrote an article one year, that the experience was nothing like I expected. Worse yet, no one seemed to read the thing. I asked around, and the experiences of the other OOMers varied. Alex wrote for her school paper — but her school treated it as an elective (like instead of art, you could be a reporter!). Megan wrote for hers as well, which was a bit more “underground” and required auditions. Kristen’s experience was interesting — she didn’t have a school paper, but her town’s local paper reserved dedicated columns to each local school, and students had to apply to be the columnist. I read this morning’s New York Times piece about the dwindling number of school newspapers with interest. Fewer than one in eight of New York City’s public high schools reported having a newspaper or print journalism class; many of them, though, now only publish a few times a year because of “shrinking staffs, budget cuts and a new focus on core academic subjects.” Some, responding to our digital times, have moved to online-only versions. Despite my lack of a meaningful high school newspaper, I still find the concept to be an incredibly important one, and I hate the thought of them dying out. Did you, or do you, have a school newspaper? Does it exist in print or just online? How often does it run? I’d love to find out. Image via