GUEST COMMENTARY: How newspapers excel in educating our students

2014-03-07T20:15:00Z 2014-03-07T20:15:14Z GUEST COMMENTARY: How newspapers excel in educating our studentsBy Caroline Little
March 07, 2014 8:15 pm  • 

What is the best way to learn about the world?

For students, there is there no better way than a newspaper – no matter what platform – print, digital or mobile. Every day, newspapers deliver key information about world governments, local communities, economic shifts and scientific discoveries.

Teachers and schools agree. Classrooms across America will be spending this week focused on their local newspaper coverage as they celebrate Newspapers in Education Week with a wide range of lessons and discussions. Many newspapers have developed specific materials and fun activities corresponding to current events in addition to offering students free access to their online editions.

Journalism has been referred to as the “first rough draft of history,” and this week is dedicated to celebrating this fact. Readers of all ages trust newspaper content more than any other form of media, so it is logical that students would refer to their local newspaper to place today’s event in the context of the larger story and foster civic engagement.

By teaching our students to thoughtfully dissect the news, we are fostering critical skills such as good writing and clear communication that will serve them well in any field they choose to pursue. The newspaper in the classroom is far from a new concept because newspapers have always educated citizens of all ages.

However, the way news is dissected is changing. People read newspapers in all forms, regardless of the platform. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to reading news. For some students, like those who live near our offices in metro Washington, D.C., they will read a print edition of a newspaper every morning as they take the Metro to school. For others, they will rely on their laptops or smartphones to catch up on the news of the day.

Today’s students are exceptionally social media savvy as they turn to Twitter or Facebook to see what news is trending, get real-time updates and engage with reporters like they have never been able to before.

It is an exciting time for newspapers as these new avenues open up for students to get involved, whether they are politically motivated or interested in a journalism career. As an example, at our NAA mediaXchange 2014 conference in Denver this month, we will have a crew of student journalists covering the sessions and developing content for Our industry is looking at the way forward and that includes the next generation of reporters, editors and publishers – and readers.

I enjoy Newspapers in Education week because we know the Millennial generation is engaging with newspapers at an outstanding rate. Recent studies show than 56 percent of adults age 18 to 34 read newspaper content every week and 71 percent access newspaper content in a given month. These are staggering numbers that reveal the true breadth and scope of the newspaper industry, reaching millions upon millions of young people every day.

The newspaper industry has transformed, but we remain committed to our core principle of reporting the events of our world, informing citizens and championing free speech. I’m honored the newspaper industry has this opportunity with Newspapers in Education Week to partner with schools across the country and inspire the next generation of leaders.

Caroline Little is president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America. The opinions are the writer's.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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