Journalism and a School Newspaper Club
One of the lacking aspects of many journalism classes or programs in schools is the ability to provide students with real-world experience. This is where a school newspaper club can come in. A newspaper club allows students to experience a variety of journalism types and to gain real experience that not only looks good on a resume, but can build confidence for any journalistic career.
There are two classes of journalism that a newspaper club can aid your students in learning: print journalism and photojournalism. Within these classes, there are specific areas of specialty that can be incorporated into a school newspaper club: investigative, news, reviews, columns, and feature.
Print journalism is all things print (such as a newspaper). Individuals here are your writers, your editors, and your reporters. They are expected to write the copy, edit the copy, and discover the facts by investigation, interviews, or research.
Students involved in print journalism can use a newspaper to gain real-world experience. They can write about school events or even local events. They can conduct interviews with teachers, administrators, and fellow students (as well as people in the community). They can learn how to do proper research into facts, verifying facts, and looking for resolutions to contradictory facts.
Without a doubt, a newspaper club can aid your journalism program as students develop the necessary skills and knowledge in journalism.
A photojournalist is often paired with a print journalist. However, a photojournalist is often responsible for telling the story in pictures. Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words, and the right photo goes a long way in generating specific emotions in viewers. Think of some of the more iconic images in history: the soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima, the sailor randomly gabbing and kissing a nurse upon his return home after the war, or the flag that firefighters hung on a twisted steel beam of the twin towers, the building a pile of rubble behind it.
This is what photojournalists do. They capture the moment in image. Their images can tell a story. A newspaper club gives students the change to capture these moments at school. They can learn to have an eye for these moments, to capture them, and to present them in print.
This type of journalism seeks to undercover the truth about a subject, individual, or some event. Often, this means wading through information presented in such a way that presents the subject in the best view. An investigator needs to cut away the fluff, find the essential facts, and then present the information as objectively as possible.
Investigative reporters often need to deal with uncooperative people and tight-lipped friends and family. They must be able to take rejection, but also to be unbiased in the presentation of the facts they’ve uncovered. They will also need to be very careful to verify all the facts from as many sources as they can before presenting them in writing.
In a school environment, investigative journalism may not be a serious endeavor, but there will still be opportunities to stretch the investigative muscles of students. The power of the newspaper club cannot be underrated.
Report the facts as they are known and given. No interpretation or questioning. No speculation or supposition. It is just the facts. Information at its core.
In these instances, the news is what carries the story. People want to find out what happened, so they read the article. In a school newspaper, there actually may be less of this than you think. Most events are already well known to students because of this high speed information age. Students already know who won the game, became class president and so on. This information is disseminated through texts, calls, Twitter, and Facebook.
So in a newspaper setting, you will only want to write news articles regarding things few already know about.
Simple enough. Take a product, a movie, a book, or anything else that is mass produced and give your opinion on it. Specifically, the review needs to be orientated to your audience (the school), and relevant to their way of thinking. But reviewers often create significant influence with readers. You can even review school polices, rules, school academics, sports teams and much more. The list is endless in this category.
The writer typically tries to hide their own personal opinions and just tries to show the pros and cons of each item reviewed.
This is where personal opinion really shines. Students can allow their own personality to take over in this kind of writing. Credibility will need to be earned, of course, but this is where a student can write a critique, thoughts on an academic policy, challenge conventional wisdom, spark a bit of controversy (within limits), and create conversation.
Or known as feature writing, is somewhat of a combination of all of the above. There is interpretation of events, even predictions, as well as thorough research and presentation of facts. A bit of the personality of the writer comes into play and the flavor of the written piece may reflect a certain opinion or bias, but done so only in the context of well-researched facts.
Typically, these articles are the longest, as they attempt to engage readers in a fluid and dynamic piece of writing. In a school setting, feature articles could tackle some of the more well-known aspects of school life, such as the dress code, the academic requirements, politics in the administration or school board, controversial lesson plans, and so on.
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