Advisers and Editors Center

The School Newspaper Adviser’s Role


The role of the adviser or the school newspaper club adviser is crucial to the overall success of your school’s newspaper. The adviser must strike a balance between overseeing the work and allowing the students the freedom to produce their own newspaper that accurately reflects the voice of the student body. Also, the adviser, to be effective, should be able to give solid advice regarding all aspects of a newspaper, from writing and editing to design and layout.

If that is not you, then that doesn’t mean you can’t be a teacher adviser, because the most important thing an adviser needs is the willingness to learn for the sake of the students. Let’s look at the role of a teacher adviser for a student newspaper or a newspaper club more closely.

Know the Purpose of a Student Newspaper

The adviser’s job is to keep the purpose of the newspaper foremost in the mind of the students. It might be fun or even interesting to venture out into other arenas—such as global politics—but that is not the purpose of a student newspaper. So what is the main purpose?

The main purpose of a student newspaper is to give the student body a voice, a forum for expression.

As a teacher adviser, your job is to keep this concept before the students. Let them voice their opinions and let their voices be heard. Your job is to guide it and make sure that it stays within the realm of realism and respectability. This leads to the next role of the teacher adviser:

Teach Responsible Journalism

This means that your job will be to set policy for what gets printed and what does not—a framework of set guidelines that the students must adhere to. You don’t want to print gossip or inaccurate facts. You don’t want to print wild speculation or cause people to believe a lie.

The teacher adviser is to teach these budding journalists how to properly research facts, get validation, give proper credit, and reference material correctly.

You Will Influence Opinion

A student newspaper can create opinion—good or bad. As an adviser, you must not only take responsibility for this, but you will need to teach your students to take responsibility for this as well. Their words can have a major impact on the opinion of the student body. This should not be taken lightly, and a good teacher adviser will see that the members of the newspaper club don’t take it lightly either.

Teach your students the difference between journalism and posting willy-nilly on social media. Give them a clear distinction between the two.

Provoke Student Dialogue

An engaged student is a learning student. If you can provoke members of your club to discuss various sides of an issue, you will engage them and provide a platform for learning. Be the one that questions their assumptions or facts. Get them thinking. Get them talking.

Students of any age will have wildly different opinions on subjects. Most often, these opinions are formed from a single or slanted viewpoint without any effort to walk in the other shoes for a time. Your job will be to get them to see things from perspectives they never considered before--and then to write about the experience. When allowing students to share their opinions in a newspaper, do so only after they have treated both sides of the issue with respect.

Provide Advice on Writing Style

Part of the job of a teacher adviser is to teach your students how to write an article. There are different techniques, such as the Inverted Pyramid style, that can be used to write a news article that answers all the questions of who, where, when, what, why, and how. Some articles are more editorial and as such are written in a different style.

Giving advice in this area and making sure the content is appropriate is part of the teacher adviser’s job.

Build a Process for Student Editor

Give students the ability to have the final say on any material that is appropriate for print. Teach students how to make good decisions in this regard, work together, and how to decide what should and should not be included in the newspaper.

Be the Intermediary

Another important role that the teacher adviser plays is to be the one who makes sure the expectations of the administration and the creative urges of your students mesh. The administration will have certain criteria and levels of expectations that will need to be met. They can’t, for example, have the newspaper completely disrupt school operations, nor can they allow anything that would create a costly lawsuit.

This is not nearly as scary as it seems, but it takes someone who can be that go-between. That person will be the teacher adviser for the school newspaper or the newspaper club.

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