A Guide to Starting a School Newspaper
By Christy Burke
If you're interested in starting a school newspaper, this guide will give you some insight on what you need to do to get started. All you really need is a few students who are interested in producing a school paper. It’s a lot of fun and a great way to build a sense of community at your school as well as help students to improve writing skills.
What Should a School Newspaper Cover?
A school newspaper is the perfect opportunity for students to write about topics they’re interested in. Your paper should cover topics relevant to the school and surrounding community as well as any significant national news. You can have students volunteer to write articles or you might want to assign them, based on their interests and writing abilities.
Common topics in a school newspaper:
School Events - A student newspaper is a great way to advertise upcoming school events, such as dances, pep rallies, clubs, PTA meetings, sporting events.
Interviews with Students and Staff - What better way to create a sense of community at your school than to highlight students and staff in each paper. This is where you can celebrate student achievements in and out of school. It’s also the perfect opportunity to give students an inside look into the lives of teachers outside of school. This creates a deeper connection between students and teachers.
Student Reviews - Movies, Music, TV Shows, Games, Tech - Give students an opportunity to express their views on the latest entertainment and tech. Students like to show off what they know. Plus, it introduces other students to new music, shows, and tech that they aren’t aware of.
Advice Column - This can include study tips, classes to take, how to deal with stress during exams, healthy snacks to take to school, etc. The options are endless.
School News - This is where students can get creative. If you give them the leeway to come up with their own article topics, you might be surprised to find out what is important to them and what they’re passionate about. Anything from what makes a great teacher to peer pressure and its effects on students are fair game. As newspaper advisor, you will have final say on what is appropriate for your school.
Local and Nationwide News - Have students read/watch the news each day. Then, students can choose to report on topics that are meaningful and significant. Controversial topics shouldn’t necessarily be off limits, especially topics that affect your student population. This is also an excellent opportunity to teach students how to find unbiased and relevant news sources to support their articles.
Editorials - Students should be encouraged to write opinion pieces about school news as well as local and national events. This is not the place for them to bash school policies or teachers and staff. But, it’s a great way for students to learn argumentative writing. Showing them how to back up their opinions with valid sources makes their writing more credible.
Should you assign jobs to students?
Absolutely! In order to ensure that your newspaper runs smoothly, students should be assigned jobs before you begin to create the newspaper. These positions could rotate with each paper to give students a chance to experience different positions.
Possible jobs include:
Most of the students will fall into this category. These students will research and write all of the articles for the paper. Students should have a clear understanding of the difference between an opinion piece and a news article. They should also be well-versed in reputable sources to find unbiased local and national news.
This position should go to students with excellent writing skills. Students that have this job can also be a writer for the paper. They will edit completed pieces to ensure they are polished and ready for printing. They will also make suggestions for improvement on the articles. Downloading an app such as Grammarly will also ensure that your paper is free of any significant spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
Layout and Design
This is the perfect job for students who are into graphics and photography. These students are in charge of how the final paper will look. Jobs include finding or designing graphics, taking photos, choosing fonts, arranging the articles, and any other aspects of the layout and design of the paper.
This may seem like a lot to get organized. All you really need is a team of students that are excited about producing a paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, with each newspaper that you produce, you will find ways to improve. The important thing is to get started!