How to start a high school newspaper

Sometimes it is hard to know what to write about. Since we specialize in printing school newspapers, we have a good idea of what schools like to write about. Below are a compilation of article ideas that we have found schools utilizing in their newspapers.

Other Essential Newspaper Tools

  • Free Newspaper Design Software
  • Lowest Newspaper Printing Prices
  • Free School Newspaper Templates

Student Spotlight

Interview a student or more than one (even a particular group) and write an article about that individual or group. Try to discover some atypical information from them that would make an intriguing article. Ask questions such as:

  • If you had a magic wand and could change anything about the school, what would be the number one change you would make and why?
  • If you were the principal and found yourself in charge of us, what would be the first thing you would do?
  • What makes a good teacher/principal?
  • What makes a good student?
  • Here is a list of 10 teachers and administrators, what move/TV actor most resembles each teacher or administrator?
  • If school were a movie, what movie would we all be in?
  • What is fame and what is the route you intend to take to get there?
  • How do you define peer-pressure and is it dangerous? Why?
  • If you had the power to hire anyone in the world to be your teacher, who would you hire and why?
  • What is the best kept secret on campus that you’re willing to spoil?

Popular Culture

Write articles about the latest movies, music, literature and art. You can write reviews, make recommendations, take polls, and become a critic. Be sure to add screen shots or photos to enhance the article.

Student Life

Write articles about the daily happenings around the school. Write about sporting events, activities, accomplishments, changes in policy, rules, teacher changes, and more. Things to consider writing an article about are:

  • Your sports teams
  • Your clubs
  • Your teachers
  • Your administrators
  • School changes
  • The cafeteria food
  • Extra-circular activities
  • Field trips
  • School needs
  • Information about upcoming events and activities

Rivalries and School Elections

Every school has that arch “enemy” so to speak, that other school that always seems to be the one school everyone wants to beat in sports. Writing about them and past and future rivalries make for good articles. Write stories on those running for class offices and talk about their strengths and weaknesses.

School History

Every school has history. Some of it can be quite interesting. Try writing articles about the founding of the school, the history of the school name and/or mascot, former principals, former accomplishments and more.

Local News

Write articles about local news. You might even be able to interview the mayor, city council, and other city or county officials. In writing about local news, make sure it relates to the students in your school in some way.

Editorials and Opinion Pieces

Solicit students to write opinion articles,letters to the editor, and editorials. Some great topics to write on are:

  • New governmental policies
  • Trending stories – stories that polarize people, cause social upheaval, or that most people are following.
  • Social issues (parenting, divorce, dating, religion, marriage, diversity, racism, etc).
  • School policy and rules
  • School curriculum

Self-Help Articles

You can write articles that help people overcome certain addictions, bad habits, and fears. Write articles on what to do if someone tries to take advantage of you, how to overcome the fear of authority, how to approach the principal, what friendship really is, how to make friends, how to study, ways to get better grade, study tips, and so forth.

Other Ideas

These ideas should get you going in the right direction. Don’t forget to add things like:

  • Comics (particularly student drawn ones)
  • Guest articles (from staff and faculty)
  • Polls
  • Contests
  • Puzzles
  • Hide an icon, picture, or logo in your newspaper for students to find
  • Popular product reviews
  • Popular services reviews

Free Cloud Designer Templates

Our templates are 100% customizable, super user-friendly, and designed specifically to help you create outstanding school newspapers with our free Cloud Designer. Below are a few of the 100s of templates available to you.

News articles are designed to relate the news. The article is written to inform readers. It is factual, meant to present information in a quick, digestible form. The following elements of writing a newspaper article are important, so heed them well.

Research and Fact Gathering

Perhaps the #1 rule of writing a newspaper article is that you are factual. You do not want to make assumptions or fabricate information. Before you can write your article, you must have as many of the facts as you can gather. Here are some facts that you will need to find out:

  • What? The specific event that took place.
  • Who? The people involved.
  • Where? Places.
  • When? Date and time.
  • Why? Reasons for the event taking place.
  • How? Connecting the facts.

You will also need to gather as much detail as you can. This will involve:

  • Interviewing people connected to the story.
  • Gathering quotes from people (be exact…never paraphrase what they said). Cite names, unless they specifically request to remain anonymous.
  • Resolving conflicting facts from individuals.
  • Researching public information (always cite your sources, so write them down).

Once you have all your facts, you can begin to write your article.

The Headline or Title

For a news article, this is where you have most of your creativity. The headline must grab the attention of the reader. It needs to be catchy, emotion evoking, or creates curiosity. Be creative with it. In many instances, you will spend more time trying to come up with the perfect headline than you will in the actual writing.

The Article Body

The main news article itself is written from bottom down. In other words, the most important information comes first and each paragraph gives less and less details. Whereas a novel, for example, starts you out with little information and you must read to the end to get all of it.

In news article writing, however, you want to provide the key information right up front. You start with the 6 questions you should have already answered in your research:

  • What?
  • Who?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Why?
  • How?

Your first two paragraphs need to answer all these questions. For example:

The Varsity football team beat Smith High School last Saturday, 21 to 7, in a rematch that vindicated Coach John’s prediction of a win during Friday’s pep-rally. Our first home win this season at our very own Jane Doe Field was a morale booster to the entire student body. Quarterback, Joe Baker completed 18 out of 24 passes to cement the win.

This was only a simple example, but almost all the questions are actually answered in the first two sentences. From here you can add more inconsequential details, such as receiving yards, rushing yards, and so forth. You will at some point include quotes from people such as the coach, the quarterback, a receiver, a fan in the stands, and perhaps the principal. Although for quotes, you don’t want to include too many, but having two or three is important. By the time you get to the end of the article, you are simply expanding upon what the reader already knows from the first two paragraphs you wrote.

Don’t make your paragraphs long—two to three sentences each. Your word count will need to stay around the 500 word count or less, generally speaking.

SEE WHAT OTHER SCHOOLS ARE DOING

Below are just a few examples of what other schools are doing with their newspapers. Take a look and become inspired and find ideas.

When this fifth-grade teacher shifted his school newspaper online, he found that students were motivated to produce high-quality work for an authentic audience—and felt more connected as a community.

Like teachers around the country, I enjoy setting up those special events and activities that make kids want to come to school, and I’ve found that it’s hard to run clubs, conduct sports tournaments, and host talent shows out of my den–turned–virtual classroom. It hasn’t been easy telling the students over Zoom that many of these won’t happen. But how could I tell my amazing fifth-grade journalists that the Dolphin Splash Newspaper Club had to take a break too?

Fortunately, I discovered that I could keep my school newspaper running safely and easily, and the results have been awesome.

An Adaptable Medium—With Many Benefits

Our virtual newspaper became an accessible online location for students to publish their writing—and read work by their peers. It gave them a chance to have their voices heard on topics they really wanted to discuss in a way that felt very much like our physical school newspaper. It also allowed students with various passions and learning styles a chance to shine.

For example, one student wanted to continue her commitment to others, so she began an advice column. Liliana needed an outlet to share her feelings about quarantine, so she wrote op-eds about wearing masks and staying safe. Mauricio, from my colleague’s class, updated a popular column called “Random Facts.”

The virtual newspaper helped me teach my students literacy in a more practical way, too. I was able to change settings to approve comments, teach the concept of audience, and even create a how-to guide for readers and writers. And because the students were engaging authentically with their friends, they were motivated to learn editing skills.

Important Dos and Don’ts for a Virtual Newspaper

Nothing on a computer these days feels entirely without risk, especially for teachers and students. However, I learned a few things that helped me feel comfortable with the process.

Do:

    Meet weekly with your student writers and editors. Our club usually meets for 30 minutes to discuss ideas. I have found that the more agency kids feel over their choice of content, the more it was read. Most contributions to the newspaper begin as class writing projects, so there is minimal extra editing on my part.

Do not:

  • Allow comments without approval or keep the platform public. Remember that if you publish the newspaper on a website, it will be accessible as a URL, and that may feel a bit scary at first. Keep in mind, though, that you control the site and who can comment.
  • Use students’ last names or profile pictures in case the site is found through a secondary link by someone you are not familiar with.

For me, the biggest safety issue was resolved by allowing students to discuss and access the paper through links I made available only to their teachers.

How to Get Your Newspaper Up and Running

I’m sure there are a lot of ways you could tailor a virtual newspaper to your virtual class. Many colleagues I know use platforms like Padlet. I wanted something a bit more suited to our ongoing themes, so I started with a blog-based platform. I recommend WordPress and Wix for their ease and safety controls.

All in all, I found these platforms about as easy to use as Google Classroom. If you aren’t sure how to get started, there are many tutorial videos on YouTube (such as this one for WordPress). You may be surprised by how much fun it can be—and how quickly you’ll learn.

Once you pick the platform you wish to use:

1. Choose a template or design, and set your controls.

2. Work with students to design it. (Trust me, this is the fun part) Most templates will allow you to create pages for different types of posts or categories of articles.

3. Post work and share links with other classes.

4. Send invitations to the weekly meeting, and solicit work from writers and teachers in different classrooms. You’ll be able to give multiple editor permissions if other educators want to help.

School newspapers can be daunting, frightening ideas for teachers and administrators. Adults fear irresponsible reporting that proves to be gossip about the school, a staff member, or student.

Or there’s the fear that some piece of news in the school paper will catch the attention of the mainstream news media and vans of reporters and cameras will bombard the school.

Or there’s a fear that the poor quality of writing will embarrass the school.

With the decrease in newspaper readership across the country and limited budgets, it’s easy for schools to decide against continuing to publish a school paper. But with thoughtful supervision, a newspaper can responsibly amplify student voice.

In the years I’ve supervised the school newspapers at two different Chicago public high schools, neither the students nor I faced any regrettable situations. Students reported on real issues, too, not just the school dance.

These are some of the guidelines and insights that helped me succeed as a journalism teacher and that can, hopefully, help others.

1. Make journalism a class

There’s no way a quality school newspaper can be consistently, thoughtfully published as part of a voluntary after-school club. (But if you’re doing it, let me know how.) In a journalism class, we cover general reporting and editorial practices, and students can be held accountable for producing high-quality pieces.

I’ve taught journalism as an elective, and I recommend keeping it as an elective. The format and workload for the class vary from my core English classes. This allows students to work at a more comfortable pace and think through their ideas, research, and reporting.

One drawback to making this an elective (and sometimes getting students who didn’t request the class) is that by April–especially with seniors–it becomes more difficult to motivate some students to produce high-quality material.

This year, my high school changed Journalism to a semester class. Mid-January, I’ll have a new crop of students, which will bring a new set of ideas and energy to the publication.

In an elective class of 25-30 students, there’s usually enough good material created for an eight-page newsletter. We also give other students in the school opportunities to submit their writing, photography, or art.

2. Follow a journalist’s code of ethics.

  • Seek Truth and Report It
  • Minimize Harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be Accountable and Transparent

This code eliminates misconceptions that journalism is about reporting or creating scandals. It helps students understand and carry out our goal: to produce responsible and engaging journalism for students.

3. Make the newspaper for students—not for the school to market itself.

I tell my students that our newspaper is not a publication that summarizes everything that happened last month in the school. We focus on reporting about real issues that affect our school community. “What are students talking about?” I ask regularly.

“The school lunches!” they said.

So a couple of years ago, we ran an article about the poor quality of the school lunches —and made sure to interview the cafeteria staff and a representative from Aramark (I had to help with this last one).

Or they said, “So-and-so’s teaching!” So another year, our staff explored the question, “What is good teaching at our school?” Students interviewed students and teachers to get multiple perspectives. One of our administrators helped a student create a thoughtful survey that allowed students to share their ideas about teaching without singling out any teacher.

4. Make the administration your friend

Publishing a school newspaper as a forum for student expression is an opportunity to teach students the balance between freedom and responsibility.

Whenever students want to write about a sensitive topic, I meet with the principal and say, “Here’s what kids are talking about. If we report on this, what should we consider?”

One principal was a micro-manager. So I made sure to share drafts as a way to “manage up.” I always got meaningful feedback that I passed along to students. So students learned what it’s like to have a really tough editor. The underlying principle of these conversations was not to censor students but to make them better writers and thinkers.

Other principals have completely trusted me with the responsibility of ensuring responsible reporting that follows the SPJ’s Code of Ethics. They’ve never asked to see drafts. I’ve never had a student reporter who needed to retract something.

According to the Student Press Law Center , if school officials want to censor something, they “must demonstrate some reasonable educational justification.”

For April Fool’s Day, we’re more careful. We publish a satirical issue –thoughtfully. I partnered with a colleague who had her students produce socially responsible humorous pieces as part of their study of satire.

5. Focus on teaching structures and gathering perspectives

We read some well-written articles and editorials, then students research, interview, and write. I teach them to always have an agent (someone directly affected by the issue), some background or statistics to help readers understand why this is important, a view from someone who thinks differently than the agent, and some suggestion of possible next steps or solutions.

Most importantly, anyone who is mentioned in the article must have an opportunity to share his or her ideas. And I always—always—have staff members read how students quoted them before the story is published.

Desktop publishing tools make layout easier. I always do the layout. I haven’t figured out a way to have students do this.

Is it worth the effort to tackle all these challenges? I see how students take pride in seeing their name in print. One former student visited me last year and told me she was the only freshman writing for her college newspaper.

While many media literacy programs emphasize the evaluation of information, I see more value in having students actually take on the responsibility of creating information. In this era of media skepticism and proliferation, high-school journalism combats the war against facts.

Here is a link to the page with newspapers published by Ray Salazar’s journalism students.

This article was co-authored by Alicia Oglesby. Alicia Oglesby is a Professional School Counselor and the Director of School and College Counseling at Bishop McNamara High School outside of Washington DC. With over ten years of experience in counseling, Alicia specializes in academic advising, social-emotional skills, and career counseling. Alicia holds a BS in Psychology from Howard University and a Master’s in Clinical Counseling and Applied Psychology from Chestnut Hill College. She also studied Race and Mental Health at Virginia Tech. Alicia holds Professional School Counseling Certifications in both Washington DC and Pennsylvania. She has created a college counseling program in its entirety and developed five programs focused on application workshops, parent information workshops, essay writing collaborative, peer-reviewed application activities, and financial aid literacy events.

There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 29,818 times.

A school newspaper adds a lot of value to the institution. It keeps the community informed of important happenings. A school paper reports the news and also highlights outstanding students and staff. Also, a school paper is a great way for students to get some real life journalism experience. If your school does not currently have a paper, don’t worry. There are several steps you can take to start a school newspaper.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to write about. Since we specialize in printing school newspapers, we have a good idea of what schools like to write about. Below are a compilation of article ideas that we have found schools utilizing in their newspapers.

Other Essential Newspaper Tools

  • Free Newspaper Design Software
  • Lowest Newspaper Printing Prices
  • Free School Newspaper Templates

Student Spotlight

Interview a student or more than one (even a particular group) and write an article about that individual or group. Try to discover some atypical information from them that would make an intriguing article. Ask questions such as:

  • If you had a magic wand and could change anything about the school, what would be the number one change you would make and why?
  • If you were the principal and found yourself in charge of us, what would be the first thing you would do?
  • What makes a good teacher/principal?
  • What makes a good student?
  • Here is a list of 10 teachers and administrators, what move/TV actor most resembles each teacher or administrator?
  • If school were a movie, what movie would we all be in?
  • What is fame and what is the route you intend to take to get there?
  • How do you define peer-pressure and is it dangerous? Why?
  • If you had the power to hire anyone in the world to be your teacher, who would you hire and why?
  • What is the best kept secret on campus that you’re willing to spoil?

Popular Culture

Write articles about the latest movies, music, literature and art. You can write reviews, make recommendations, take polls, and become a critic. Be sure to add screen shots or photos to enhance the article.

Student Life

Write articles about the daily happenings around the school. Write about sporting events, activities, accomplishments, changes in policy, rules, teacher changes, and more. Things to consider writing an article about are:

  • Your sports teams
  • Your clubs
  • Your teachers
  • Your administrators
  • School changes
  • The cafeteria food
  • Extra-circular activities
  • Field trips
  • School needs
  • Information about upcoming events and activities

Rivalries and School Elections

Every school has that arch “enemy” so to speak, that other school that always seems to be the one school everyone wants to beat in sports. Writing about them and past and future rivalries make for good articles. Write stories on those running for class offices and talk about their strengths and weaknesses.

School History

Every school has history. Some of it can be quite interesting. Try writing articles about the founding of the school, the history of the school name and/or mascot, former principals, former accomplishments and more.

Local News

Write articles about local news. You might even be able to interview the mayor, city council, and other city or county officials. In writing about local news, make sure it relates to the students in your school in some way.

Editorials and Opinion Pieces

Solicit students to write opinion articles,letters to the editor, and editorials. Some great topics to write on are:

  • New governmental policies
  • Trending stories – stories that polarize people, cause social upheaval, or that most people are following.
  • Social issues (parenting, divorce, dating, religion, marriage, diversity, racism, etc).
  • School policy and rules
  • School curriculum

Self-Help Articles

You can write articles that help people overcome certain addictions, bad habits, and fears. Write articles on what to do if someone tries to take advantage of you, how to overcome the fear of authority, how to approach the principal, what friendship really is, how to make friends, how to study, ways to get better grade, study tips, and so forth.

Other Ideas

These ideas should get you going in the right direction. Don’t forget to add things like:

  • Comics (particularly student drawn ones)
  • Guest articles (from staff and faculty)
  • Polls
  • Contests
  • Puzzles
  • Hide an icon, picture, or logo in your newspaper for students to find
  • Popular product reviews
  • Popular services reviews

Free Cloud Designer Templates

Our templates are 100% customizable, super user-friendly, and designed specifically to help you create outstanding school newspapers with our free Cloud Designer. Below are a few of the 100s of templates available to you.

The difference between an editorial and a column is simple. An editorial is the collective view of the newspaper and is generally unsigned. A column is the opinion of a particular person and usually reflects only his or her particular view.

If you write an editorial, it should reflect the consensus of the editorial staff of your newspaper. You should never use the pronoun “I” while writing. If you write a column, then it should reflect your personal opinion and should be known that it is written by you. In a column, you can absolutely use “I” seeing as it is a personal viewpoint.

Choosing the Subject

Generally speaking this is probably the most important part…what to write about. Choose topics that are relevant to your school and the students. This shouldn’t be hard to find, but keep things relevant.

There are four basic types of editorials:

  • Clarification – This is where you give your opinion on what a school rule means or perhaps you interpret a particular action of the school board.
  • Critique – This is where you become critical of something, perhaps a school policy, a teaching method, or the food served in the cafeteria.
  • Convincing – This is where you try to convince and sway someone to your particular viewpoint. Generally speaking, the predominate viewpoint contradicts yours, so you are trying to explain why yours is better.
  • Commendation – Here you write to put your stamp of approval on someone, something, or an idea. You explain why you agree with the person or action, defend the individual or action, and perhaps even endorse the individual or action.

Laying Out Your Argument

Your argument needs to be persuasive and entertaining. If your writing is not entertaining, who will want to read it? So being with arguments or a stance that might be somewhat controversial or outrageous, and then, as you get deeper into the argument, you clarify your position and why it is not so outrageous.

Make sure you have a catchy title that causes someone to pause, question, or become curious. But once you’ve drawn the reader in, there are several things you need to focus on:

  • Explain your position in one sentence. This should be right at the beginning of your piece…or very near the beginning. It can be, as mentioned, outrageous, controversial, or even humorous. It should grab the reader’s attention. For example:
    • Teachers should break the rules more.
    • Our football team is the best team in the nation.
    • The new school policy violates student’s free speech rights.
    • The dress code isn’t strict enough!

    Some writers recommend saving your best arguments for last because what a person reads last will stick in their minds longer. But if you do that, then your other arguments need to be engaging or you may lose readers.

    Conclude with a reiteration of your argument and why you hold to the particular solution you presented.

    Free Cloud Designer Templates

    Our templates are 100% customizable, super user-friendly, and designed specifically to help you create outstanding school newspapers with our free Cloud Designer. Below are a few of the 100s of templates available to you.

    alt=”8 Top Reasons to Have a School Newspaper ” width=”” height=”” />If you think school newspaper is fast becoming extinct and old-fashioned, re-think. A school news paper can act as an integral to improve the quality of education in your institution. School newspaper provides a platform for students to express their ideas and creativity. It helps to develop their critical thinking skills. Moreover, it can be instrumental in building peer-to-peer relationship, while shaping their perspectives, opinion and identity.

    As an educational institution, it is your responsibility to provide your students a healthy and quality environment that helps to develop their core skills. An internal newspaper is one of the mediums that schools must provide students to ensure highest standards of education, both academic and extracurricular.

    Here are top 8 reasons why having a print newspaper is a vital school activity:

    1. Improves Creative Skills of Your Students – Having a school newspaper empowers students to showcase their writing skills and voice their opinions. Since young minds are bubbling with fresh ideas, a newspaper is the best way to capture these in a creative manner.
    2. Builds Confidence – When students get a platform to articulate their thoughts without any fear, it helps to build confidence in them. Participating in school newspaper makes them feel special. It adds great enthusiastic in them to present their skills.
    3. Boosts the Educational Process – Having students take part in debates, short stories, poetry, creative writing, etc. on school newspaper can help facilitate the education process, nurturing their skills and honing them to gain better interest in academics.
    4. Offers a Better Understanding of Student’s Mindset – What and how your students express on a newspaper is a good way to judge what they have in their mind. In a scenario where the management is finding a solution to bridge the gap between the students and their faculty or parents, school newspaper can play a pivotal role.
    5. Improves Communication – Student-run newspapers are a great way to build communication between all groups in the school. They come together, interact, brainstorm and ideate. And that helps improve association among each other.
    6. Helps to Identify Key Issues – School newspapers are often a good medium to identify various issues that would not be available otherwise. When you allow your students to voice fearlessly, they can come up with certain key areas that might need improvements or your attention.
    7. Builds Teamwork – Brainstorming and producing a school newspaper can provide your students with valuable experience in collaboration and teamwork that can go a long way in their lives.
    8. Generates School Funding – Like any other form of print media, a school newspaper is a lucrative opportunity to gather funding. It is a great platform to get advertisements from community businesses as well as provides the school an option to promote upcoming events, infrastructure and other campus facilities. This can help get sponsorships and donations from people who want to support.

    Get Started Now

    Wondering how to start with a school newspaper? Print Newspaper provides you the best ideas design your own newspaper – tabloid or broadsheet – choosing from a wide range of templates. Once the design is ready, upload the PDF file and place order for custom printed newspapers. It is that simple!

    Start a school newspaper, and students and faculty alike will express their gratitude for implementing the benefits for your school and community.