Newspapers are cutting, scaling back or significantly changing their youth coverage. Collegiate and high school journalism programs can help fill the void.
Newspapers are no longer willing to devote substantial resources to creating youth content. High school journalists at outstanding school newspapers already produce quality journalism. College students assigned to cover youth issues can provide free labor. By putting content online, newspapers don’t have to worry about the print costs.
I propose three solutions for newspapers to fill the void left from cutting youth content:
1)Turn to your local high school journalism papers. Offer to publish select content from area student newspapers on your Web site. Student journalists get a wider audience, and a clip in the daily paper. You get free content at no cost. Myhsj.org is an excellent repository of online high school journalism papers.
2)Look for partnerships. The Teen Appeal is a perfect example of a longtime successful collaborative effort. The teen section is a partnership between the Memphis Appeal, the University of Memphis, Scripps Howard Foundation and area high school journalists. Other newspapers can turn to foundations for funding and follow this model. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation funded a collaborative youth effort between the University of North Carolina, North Carolina Central University and Durham, N.C.- area high school students. There’s no valid reason why a local newspaper, like the Durham Herald-Sun or the News and Observer, couldn’t also be a part of the Durham Voice project.
3)Go to college. Colleges with journalism students can produce content free of charge that your publications can print or post online. Students in my intro. to news writing and reporting lab produced a four-page youth publication last semester. College sophomores and juniors cover issues of area high school students for a class assignment. If the Athens Banner-Herald wanted to publish aThEENs, that’d be great. Other journalism instructors could incorporate a youth article assignment into their curriculum, and newspapers could reap the benefits. Many colleges have high school press associations with summer journalism camps, where high school journalists produce newspapers and lots of youth-oriented stories. Why not provide an outlet for this work? Newspapers could publish these papers or stories from them.
Other thoughts? Ideas? Please share.