Are student newspapers obsolete? On Confessions of a Community College Dean, the blogger wonders whether a student-written print newspaper that comes out twice a semester is worth maintaining.
I’ll admit some affection for any project that gets students writing readable non-fiction. The ability to assemble a coherent narrative out of a swirl of rapidly-changing facts is useful in all kinds of contexts, certainly including business. But it’s not clear to me why that needs to happen in the context of a newspaper.
I worked for my college newspaper for four years and used that experience to get a low-paying job, which led to another low-paying job, which led to a very good job at the San Jose Mercury News. The Merc has cut its reporting, editing and photo staff by about 60 percent. The editorial pages had 11 employees when I left in early 2001. It’s down to three.
I’d advise the journalism instructors to put the paper online with daily updates. Include video reports. Students will learn to gather facts and write clearly in the modern context. In addition, make sure they know the average starting and median pay for print, online and broadcast journalists.