Newspapers Fight To Remain Relevant

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Emma Pursley

MediaNowSTL Editorial Class student Priscilla Joel works on her plan to improve her newspaper. Joel used what she created at camp to improve the dynamic of her school paper, the North Star.

Bennett Smallwood, Zach Mills, and Emma Pursley

Alexis Tainter walked through the halls of Francis Howell North High School, wearing her Paper Day shirt with her head held high. After arriving at school at 6:15 a.m. she was excited to see how this issue of the newspaper was received by the students. She looked around and noticed that multiple copies of the paper were lying on the floor, covered in dirty foot prints.

“I see the papers sitting on the ground and people stomp on them,” Tainter said. “[Student opinion of the paper] could be better.”

This happens in high school newsrooms across the country.Tired staff members and frustrated editors experience this struggle most often on paper day, when the papers are distributed to students. They know that some, if not most, of the papers will not be read. They know that their hard work will go unappreciated.

All too often students glance at newspapers for the first hour or so after publication and then the papers are cast aside, or thrown haphazardly into backpacks to join the hundreds of other discarded and crumpled worksheets and packets.

Advisers and editors are looking for new ways to increase interest in the printed news to avoid having students throw their newspapers in the trash, or not pick up a paper at all.The rise of social media and other advances in technology makes it easier for students to access information in other ways, instead of through print. But schools are experimenting with social media as a tool to save printed media from its downfall.

“There’s a Twitter account for our publication,” Aren Rendell, editor for West Side High School said. “That’s kind of our number one way to tweet out ‘Hey we’re here on late night, the paper comes out on Friday, check us out’. Sometimes it’s just a picture of the front cover like ‘check us out’.”

Although publications are taking a turn for digital in a lot of ways, being able to hold a newspaper, and keep it for future reference, may be easier than digging through a website to find a story.

“Some of the bigger stories you want [the newspaper] right there for you and sometimes you want to frame that or you want to keep it,” editor for the Lafayette High School newspaper, Jennifer Butler said.

Students such as Tainter, Rendell and Butler believe in the future of print journalism, so instead of letting the forum die schools are beginning to adapt to the new technology of the world. Forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and even creating websites specific to their publications are being used to promote and expand media.

“I don’t think that print is dead, I think there is definitely still a reason to have print publications,” Rendell said. “I think that the majority of newspapers in the U.S. that are typical newspapers need to adapt and change.”