Newspapers struggle to find a place in the classroom

Study finds a generation gap where only 8 percent of students prefer to get information from a newspaper. Majority of teachers use Internet in class as an information resource.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

Could the venerable newspaper be going the way of the film strip? A new study shows that more teachers are using the Internet in their classrooms to teach about national and international current events, rather than having students read newspapers, reports Reuters.

A newly released study by the Carnegie-Knight Task Force on the Future of Journalism Education, found that 57 percent of teachers use Internet-based news in the classroom with some frequency. The study was based on a survey of 1,262 teachers in grades 5 through 12 in the fall of 2006.

That compares with 31 percent for national television news, and 28 percent for daily papers. Local television news, at 13 percent, was at the bottom of the list, the study found.

"Students do not relate to newspapers at all, any more than they would to vinyl records," one teacher said in the study.

The findings come as small surprise to the newspaper industry, as it has suffered circulation and advertising declines, particularly in the classifieds and entertainment areas, as people go online to get information.

The study found that although students prefer the Internet, teachers prefer printed papers. Eight percent said the newspaper was a student's preferred choice. Seventy-five percent placed it at the bottom of the student list. Perhaps, the finding most helpful to the declining newspaper industry is that they have failed to promote their online websites in the classrooms, thus building their future brand loyalty.

Local papers "haven't recognized how quickly this transition is taking place," said the study's author, Thomas Patterson, a professor at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

"A news habit is one of the best predictors of whether people are going to be involved in their community, whether they're going to vote, whether they're going to care," Patterson said.

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