Printed Newspapers Remain Important Despite Rise in Social Media

A survey of 100 students at MediaNowSTL 2014 shows that students most often get their news first from social media.

A survey of 100 students at MediaNowSTL 2014 shows that students most often get their news first from social media.

Sophie Allen and Julie Medley

In a 100-student survey done at the MediaNowSTL camp in 2014, statistics show that students get their news more often in a digital form than a printed paper one.

Despite this, several said that they would be shocked and disappointed if their newspaper became entirely digital.

The question that remains is, why, if teenagers get their news mostly from sources that aren’t hard copies of newspapers, do high schools continue to produce printed papers?

The idea of having a completely digital paper, despite the fact that it makes logical sense, is a scary one. Kristina Foster, a student at Lawrence Free State High School, spoke to the feeling that comes from producing a printed product.

“There is some kind of satisfaction to see your stuff actually produced and on a piece of paper,” Foster explained. “And then when you hand it out, you’re like, ‘Yeah, I made this.’”

This feeling of accomplishment is something that almost every teenager will understand. Producing written work online is no longer an amazing feat. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer can write something and post it on the Internet for the world to read.

However, being printed is an entirely different form of expressing your ideas. Not everyone gets printed, especially in high school. The amount of students on a newspaper staff is small compared to the number of kids in the school, and an individual student’s work being chosen out of an already selective pool of stories gives the student the right to be excited about his or her work making the paper.

“I think a good majority of our student body reads the paper,” Priscilla Joel, a student at Francis Howell North High School, explains of the draw towards the high school paper. “There’s always some kind of feedback that we get from the masses.”

Foster furthered the point, and said, “People read [printed newspapers] at school because it involves them, because they go to that school, so it is central to them,” she explained. “It has information that is pertinent to them, stuff that they would kind of want to do and know about.”

While not everyone is interested in what’s going on in the world, high school news is much more personal to students because for them, high school is their world.The medium through which they receive the news is unimportant, they read it simply because it means something to them.

Erica Smith, a Mobile Journalism teacher at MediaNowSTL, said, “I see more value in the publication more than how it’s published. Whether that means it’s published online, in print, in a magazine form, on a stone tablet, the publication itself typically has more value than the production associated with it.”

Riverfront Times produces both a printed paper and an informational digital version in the form of a website. Many high school newspapers do the same thing, but should they focus more on the digital than the print?
Riverfront Times produces both a printed paper and an informational digital version in the form of a website. Many high school newspapers do the same thing, but should they focus more on the digital than the print?