School papers fade away as digital media rises

Over a quarter of schools do not have school papers but multimedia programs are on the rise. Is the difference just one of media, or have we lost an opportunity to teach critical thinking?
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
As information technology explodes on campus, so goes the demise of the student newspaper. An article in Connect for Kids says that as multimedia technology transforms how kids communicate, the traditional high school student-run newspaper is fading out.

The good news is that having the ability to make your own CD, digital video or PowerPoint presentation democratizes media production, giving more students a voice. This more democratic approach offers a broader perspective than the traditional student-run newspaper. The drawback to this is that many students don’t get traditional media analysis skills offered in journalism classes.

“Today we are inundated with information and we need media literacy in order to think for ourselves and to not be under the influence of those who are doing the thinking” and making media, explains Michelle Powers, San Francisco’s Mission High School library media specialist who helped spearhead the school’s media movement. “Every single student should be learning media literacy.”

According to a Knight Foundation survey, over a quarter of schools do not have school papers. Experts trace this demise to the 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, that gave school administrators the right to censor high school papers, “essentially cutting the legs off of school journalism programs,” says Renee Hobbs, an associate professor of communications at Temple University.

“It’s possible to have a web-based publication or television news program dealing with issues that student editors think are important,” he says. “But if they’re not being operated that way, then there’s truly something missing.”says Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center.
Editorial standards