How to Start a High School Newspaper

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Student-run newspapers have become a tradition throughout high schools around the globe. Having a high school newspaper engages students in the process of researching stories, creating content, and publishing original work. This gives students a feel for how journalism and the media function in society by providing them hands-on experience on a smaller scale. If your school does not currently publish its own newspaper, follow these steps to creating one that represents the needs and interests of the student body, faculty and staff of your school and surrounding area.

Things You'll Need

  • Journalism advisor
  • Funding
  • Interested staff
  • Find an adviser. You will need a member of the faculty to represent your organization. In some schools, your student-run newspaper will be created by the students in a journalism class taught by a teacher on staff. In this case, this teacher will be your adviser. In others, the newspaper staff may be a club that meets before or after school. A willing adviser will be needed to represent this club, as it may require considerable extra hours. Your best bet is to recruit teachers in the Language Arts and Social Sciences department.

  • Establish your organization. You may want the school newspaper to be an established elective within the curriculum that will offer involved students academic credit. This may take some lobbying with the school board. If you cannot do this, your next bet is to start a club with the help of your adviser.

  • Recruit your staff. In order for a school newspaper to be successful, there must be a willing group of individuals interested in seeing the paper become a success. This staff must be interested in devoting hours to researching, writing, taking pictures, organizing newspaper layout, getting advertising and much more. When recruiting your staff, let them know that there will be a lot of work involved, but once that first issue gets printed it will be all worth it.

  • Get funding. This is one of the most grueling parts of operating a newspaper, but it is a necessary evil. You will need funding by way of allotment from the school budget to get your paper off the ground, but a lot of what you are able to do will be dependent on your own fundraising efforts. Hold car washes, bake sales—whatever it takes to get the funding for your first issue. More important than all of these methods, however, is getting advertising from local businesses. This will include a lot of phone calls and trips around town, but it is such a necessary part of making your paper a reality. You might hear “no” a hundred times, but do not let this discourage you. Keep persistent and you will get your much needed ad space sold.

  • Teach your staff the essentials. A lot of what your staff will need to know will be taught with experience, but they must learn the basic elements of journalism as well. It would be a good idea to teach them the difference between news articles and feature articles. They will need to know about the inverted pyramid style, the “five ‘Ws,” good reporting skills, basic photography composition and much more. A lot of your research can be done by analyzing established newspapers to determine what makes a good paper. Your adviser should be knowledgeable enough to help guide you through this process.

  • Start writing, taking pictures, and laying out! During your newspaper staff meetings, delegate who will write what. Assign articles, ad sales and photography requirements to your staff. Consider their strengths and interests when assigning responsibilities. Brainstorm ideas for content for future issues in order to stay timely and efficient. Decide on content that will best serve your intended readership.

  • Get computer access. In the old days, journalists typed out their articles on type writers, cut them out, and pasted them to a newspaper template. This process was messy, difficult, and time-consuming. Thank goodness for technology! You will need computers to help you type and layout all of your newspaper. On your first issue, take extra care to play around with the look of your paper. You are introducing your school to your newspaper, so feel free to address them directly with an introduction message somewhere in your issue.

  • Put the paper to bed. Find a printing company that offers student publishing. You will need to find one that will be affordable, yet reasonably professional in appearance. Once it is printed, distribute your issues to your school. You will need to decide whether you will charge a small fee for your paper or offer it for free. This will largely depend on ad sales and funding.

  • Photo Credit Photo from cache.gawker.com
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