Mona had been given the responsibility of planning and starting a new newspaper for her school. She was so excited about it! She ran home to tell her mother. It seemed like a dream come true at that time, but now, she's wondering if she was mental to accept the responsibility of such an important school activity. She had no idea about starting a newspaper and neither did she know how she was going to go about it! The drama queen that she was, she began fretting about how she would be the laughingstock at her school! It was then that her mother, a very practical and street smart woman, to calm her down, let her in on some secrets about the whole newspaper starting deal. Here are a few of them for all you first timers.
What Goes Into Planning a High School Newspaper
Starting a newspaper at a high school level can be both challenging and fun. Challenging, because you need to explore yourself for so many qualities like taking initiative, leadership skills, resource and personnel management and the like. Yeah, they sound like incredibly grown up and complicated terms. But remember, if you've taken up the responsibility, you definitely know what you're doing, so the first step has already been taken. It also involves at least the basic knowledge of journalism and different types of journalistic writing. The others will come automatically. For information on how to fill up your paper, here's some help.
Topics you Can Use
A newspaper is basically a collection of content generated from various sources. To make the content available to readers, and for easy segregation by you, content has to be classified into different topics. Let us see what are some topics that you can include in your paper.
- News (of course): Well, it IS a newspaper, so you have to include some news in it. What type of news to include, however, is your call. You can use local, national or international news. Or if you think that's too cliché, and you want to do something different, you can make the news section only about your school campus. Make sure that it is timely and has some relevance. These are going to be the hard stories, the front page stories. So, make sure they deserve to be there.
- Sports Articles: This is an important section in your paper. Highlight all the sports events taking place and the ones that are likely to take place in the future. Write on sports and recreation and on inter school sports events like basketball or baseball, etc. as well. Get someone who is interested in sports to do this, else you'll have copy after copy of nonsense.
- Features: Features in newspapers are basically human interest stories. Scrounge around for interesting people. Or people who have an interesting story to tell. Ask your reporters to be on the constant lookout for such soft stories, because this is what will fill the major portion of your school newspaper. They must strike a nerve with the readers.
- Editorial: Fixing editors for your paper can vary from school to school. Some may have one throughout the year, some may have a rotational system every month within the team running the paper. Whoever is the editor, must have the capability to write a strong voiced editorial about a relevant topic. Relevance may be to the school, the city or even the country! There are a variety of editorial topics to choose from. The editor has to take a definite stand on whatever topic he/she has chosen to write and thus enforce the ideology of the paper as well.
- LTE: Letters to the Editor are also an important part of the paper. You can ask your school kids to write their views about the paper or about any topic that they wish to. Publish these in the LTE section. Don't limit their topics. It helps greatly in assessing the response and feedback (both positive and negative) generated by the readers of your paper.
- Photographs: Using good photographs in your school paper is what will attract your readers to it. So, if you have a hot piece of gossip on campus, but don't have the evidence (photo) to back it up, you can well imagine the dip in the popularity of the paper. Plus, using stand alone pictures is one of the best tricks that you can use to fill up space when you're short of copy. Just make sure that the pictures are well shot and well edited by a student who's trained. Don't forget to give him the credit for it.
- Miscellaneous: Though termed as miscellaneous, sections like comic strips, puzzles, poetry, vox populi, etc. make up a major portion of your paper. They showcase the talents of the kids at your school and encourages them to pursue these talents and maybe turn them into a full-fledged career.
|News||Any local, state, national or international story. Ensure it is timely. Alternatively, you can write about the current happenings at your school like maybe a cultural fest to take place in the near future or the results of a science quiz that took place in the past week.|
|Sports||This section should be dedicated to any major sports event that has either taken place or one that is about to take place in the near future. Whatever the result may be, you must maintain an unbiased disposition in your reports.|
|Features||Fill almost half your paper with human interest stories. Example for article ideas are
|LTE||Include as many letters to the editor as possible. Just make sure each letter revolves around a different topic, so as to avoid repetition.|
|Miscellaneous||Quizzes, puzzles, vox pops, poems, paintings, comic strips, etc. can be included. You can opt to have a theme for every issue and use related material. It will help the readers of the paper better and planning becomes much easier.|
The technical aspects related to the news gathering, editing, page layout and finally printing the paper is something that your school will know best. As far as help for ideas and topics goes, this should suffice. I'm sure Mona was happy with these school newspaper ideas, don't you think? I'm guessing she modified it to tailor fit her school crowd and that's what you need to do too. Make sure you gauge your target audience and draft each issue accordingly. Good luck!