Coverage: How to Get People to Read Your Newspaper Linda Barrington

How to Get People
to Read Your Newspaper
Linda Barrington
September 2010
Alabama Scholastic Press
Tell readers what they don't already know
or cannot find out for themselves
 What are students, teachers, parents talking
about that is going on in school?
 Do students and teachers know the truth
behind rumors?
 Do people know why so many students
aren’t graduating?
 Is it cheaper to go to school in another
Tell readers more about the things they
know something about already.
 College admissions/scholarships
 Changes in school rules
 The environment
 The justice system
 Minority issues
 The arts/reviews
 How to balance savings and spending
Tell about the complaints, anxieties and
worries of readers
 Transition to high school
 Trying out for a team, a sport
 Protecting yourself from identity theft
 Unfair computer lab policy
 Finding a decent part-time job
 Where is all your money going?
 Turning 18: are you really an adult?
Tell how to make school a better place to
learn and work in.
 If this were your school, what would you
 Are these problems in your school:
– Bullying
– Cafeteria cleanliness
– Cleanliness in rest rooms
Tell how to make more informed choices at
school and in personal life.
Choice of college
Nutrition, vegetarians, cafeteria menus
Pop machines, effect of pop on teens
Caffeine’s effects on those with ADD or ADHD
Drugs, alcohol, cigarette use
Opening credit card accounts
Make the paper an outlet for readers’
opinions, feelings, or thoughts
 Encourage letters to the editor
 Solicit opinion articles
 Provide PRO/CON forums for topics of
 Include photo opinion polls
Speak for students in ways they can’t
speak for themselves
 Editorial statements
Society pushes teens to go with the crowd
Americans need better manners
Concerts should not have age limits
Supporting a cause is just another trendy thing: help
something you believe in
Homeless youth overlooked by city?
Teens should increase Facebook privacy
Relationships need personal contact, not just the internet
Art educates, enlightens viewers
 Providing analysis of problems at school
 Editorial cartoons
Help students and teachers cope better
with their problems
 Where to go for help
 Resources in school and community
 Research and analyze problems:
– Bad habits = bad for your health
– Do’s and don’ts for the interview
– Shopping: getting more for your dollar
– What is our school crisis plan?
Get AHEAD of the news and preview,
preview, preview
 We’re not just talking sports here…
All-school guest speakers
Vacation plans
Proposed School Board policies
 How do you find out what’s going on?
– Beats, school calendar, department chairs, visit
with principal, School Board meetings
Get fresh follow-ups to what has already
 The consequences
 The implications for the future
 Reactions
 The inside story
 Never merely report this or that happened
*Your web page is a good place to post follow-ups.
Use photos and captions as much as
possible to report past news.
 Photos, photos, photos, large, large, large,
many, many, many.
 Provide great lively, flavorful captions
which go beyond describing what's in the
photos to tell the story BEHIND what's in
Teachers Michael Steinbrecher and Michael Stafford grill
hot dogs in the courtyard of Stuart Hall High School
during a community barbecue last Friday. Following
the annual four-school blessing in the morning,
students participated in activities focused on prayer
and art, culminating in the release of ladybugs and
worms in Lafayette Park. The day ended with Mass of
the Holy Spirit and a barbecue.
Focus on people rather than things.
 It’s never about policies, decisions, rulings,
events, plays, field trips, classes, funding
 It’s always about how people are being
affected by these things.
Capture school life, school personalities,
the community in print.
 This probably is the greatest secret of the greatest
high school papers.
 Each issue is a snow globe of the world of the
school at that moment.
 Who/what can you write about?
The crossing guard
Senior Tea
Churros on All Saints/All Souls Day
Before school pancake breakfasts
Flower crowns at Awards Ceremony
Get to the HEART of school life, the
HEART of people in the school.
 The paper should BE adolescent.
 The stories should pulse with life and
 Be irreverent and funny and a little
naughty at times; the paper shouldn't read
like a sociology project.
 Don't publish miniature research papers for
News, News-Features ideas
 Academic: curriculum, teaching, policies,
requirements, testing, evaluations, budgets,
organizations/unions, state/federal laws
– Are test scores getting better?
– Foreign exchange programs
– What’s happening at the Board of Education
meetings lately?
News, News-Features ideas
 On-campus: co-curricular, extracurricular
– Is it important to attend your Homecoming
Clubs: background, what happens in this club
Field trip policies
Budget cuts: how do they affect you?
Senior advice on how to survive your first six
weeks in high school
How to fight senioritis
News, News-Features ideas
 Off-campus: local to international
– Interview director of the school play
– Article on history of education*
– People who text and drive
– Teen violence and Halloween
– Keeping up-to-date on what is going on in the
*How to Annoy Your Teacher
Sports story ideas
 School-sponsored, competitive team sports,
intramural, club sports and recreation
 Non-school sports, recreation
– Benefits of organized/unorganized sports
 Features, columns, briefs
– Sex roles in sports
– Keeping steroids out of high school athletics
 Homecoming: history of the teams that will
be playing—past matchups, stats, etc.
Be clearly in love with the school and
 Too many school papers stand outside the
school, pointing fingers and lecturing.
 The papers which do the bravest
investigative work also seem to be the
papers which capture pride in their schools
the most effectively. It's a balancing act
that does wonders.