Urban high school newspapers are folding, reports the New York Times. Fewer than one in eight of New York City’s public high schools reported having a newspaper or print journalism class and many of the surviving newspapers publish only a few times a year. Some exist as online publications or blogs.
Nationally, nearly two-thirds of public high schools have newspapers, according to a 2011 media study, but urban, high-minority schools are the least likely to have a newspaper.
Even the World Journalism Preparatory School, a public school in Queens that teaches its 600 students to use journalism skills to explore the world around them, has struggled to find a way to support the school paper, an experience the principal said provided a valuable real-world lesson about the industry. This year, the school eliminated financing for the paper after repeatedly telling students that it could not afford to indefinitely pay $10,000 a year to print it. The students, after failing to sell ads, opted for an online paper.
As funding is shifted to college-prep classes, school newspapers are turning to bake sales and PTA appeals to stay afloat.
In the Bronx, The Clinton News has published though the Great Depression, two world wars, school budget cuts and a spell in the 1990s when it looked as if it might go under. The school’s alumni have raised tens of thousands of dollars to help cover printing costs, buy new computers and software, and upgrade the pages to color.
Still DeWitt Clinton may close. It’s received an F grade for the past two years from city education officials.
When I started on my high school newspaper, it had just been cut from weekly to every-other weekly. My daughter was editor of her high school newspaper, which came out monthly. I’d much rather see school newspapers go online and be updated frequently than turn the school newspaper into a once-a-semester ink-on-paper leaflet.
I volunteer for Mosaic, a student journalism workshop run by my friend and former colleague Joe Rodriguez. Joe is trying to adapt Mosaic to fit the changing nature of high school journalism.