HSJ Headline News
Elimination of paper causes students to miss out
June 4, 2003
Budget cuts are hitting hard at local school districts. Some foreign language and other elective courses have been eliminated in local school systems.
The latest victim of the budget ax is The Electron, the award-winning student newspaper at Franklin Community High School. Only nine students signed up for the newspaper class for the 2003-04 school year, and the principal and teacher deemed that was not enough to maintain a viable program in belt-tightening times.
We understand the fiscal realities of the situation, but it’s a great shame nonetheless.
The Electron was something that the Franklin school community could look to with pride. Under the leadership of journalism teacher Carmen Mann, the student staff of The Electron has won statewide awards for best high school newspaper. They have shown no reluctance to tackle difficult subjects, such as the consequences of teen sexual experimentation and of drug abuse.
Last year, one of Mann’s students won the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Journalism Award for a story she authored about a Franklin student who was a Bosnian refugee. The award was presented by Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the slain senator. And last fall, Mann herself won the ArvinMeritor Teacher of the Year award for her efforts to produce a high-quality student newspaper.
With that kind of track record, The Electron should have been an unlikely choice to end up on the chopping block. But it, too, was cut.
Why should parents and taxpayers care? High school students ought to have their own forum. Within reason, they ought to be able to express their concerns and opinions about school issues. That’s one of the functions of any student newspaper. Moreover, reading about their friends and classmates and topics that affect them may prompt some students to take more interest in current events in society. Learning how to be a consumer of news is part of becoming a responsible adult.
Rather than folding the newspaper entirely, Franklin high school administrators should have tried other options: Publishing the newspaper less often. Publishing an online edition to spare printing costs. Making the newspaper an after-school extracurricular activity, not a class.
We hope that the cancellation of the newspaper course was a one-year aberration due to tight budgets and small enrollment, and that The Electron can resume publishing in the 2004-05 school year. We urge the high school to brainstorm with Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism to develop ways of generating more interest in the program among younger students. They should start by recruiting promising eighth-graders at Custer Baker Middle School, so that by the time they enter high school, they want to write for The Electron.
Every high school ought to have its own student newspaper. Franklin high school students will miss out next fall due to the absence of one.
Copyright 2003, Daily Journal. Reprinted with permission