Start the presses

Student journalism is nothing new: Guided by faculty advisers, kids have been producing yearbooks, literary magazines, in-house news broadcasts and school newspapers for many years. Now, however, even those traditional activities have become another means of teaching media literacy.

“In journalism, they’re learning it whether they know it or not, in making those decisions about what’s going into our newspaper, what’s news for us,” notes Adrienne Hollifield, the adviser for Owen High’s The Hoofbeat.

Meanwhile, over at Weaverville Elementary, roughly two dozen students come together twice a month for Newspaper Club, which produces the school paper, The Talon. The emphasis, says adviser Kellie Webb, is helping students build their confidence as writers while strengthening leadership skills, learning to use technology and honing research skills.

“One of Buncombe County’s big things is creating 21st-century learners,” says Webb, who teaches fourth-grade social studies and language arts. “And you can’t be a 21st-century learner without having exposure to technology, the Internet, word processing and those kinds of things.”

These local programs reflect a broader trend: As of Feb. 1, 2010, there were more student newspapers in U.S. public high schools than commercial daily and weekly papers combined, according to Editor & Publisher International Yearbook.

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