by R.D. Fish

I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m going to keep bringing this up until it happens. Since a school year just ended, it might be a good time to give the idea another serious look.
Here goes: I still think it would be a great idea for Stover High School to have a journalism program, complete with a student-built newspaper that, if we can get sponsors for it, could even be published in The Morgan County Press.
Anybody could list the obvious educational benefits of working on a school newspaper, like language skills (writing and editing), art (photography and layout), business (selling ads and using office machines), etc. But how about these not-so-obvious benefits?
Music appreciation: When the news nerds are toiling in their news room, somebody is bound to bring tunes. In my day, this took the form of a tape or a CD playing on a boombox.
Nowadays, maybe an iPod will be involved, with or without speakers. At the very least, I expect someone to circulate a must-listen playlist to the other kids in the room, as they wear earbuds plugged into their personal devices.
Debate: When the number of people working on a story is greater than one – and with editing, proofreading, and layout duties spread around, this may apply to every story – there will be disagreement.
It may be about little things, like whether or not Internet should begin with a capital I (The AP style guide says yes, but that just sounds crazy!), or about bigger issues, like the angle to take on a feature about the school board’s decision to cut underwater basket weaving (Maybe calling them “basket cases” is a tad too strong?).
Either way, it will be a good opportunity to learn how to disagree with people in a respectful and non-disruptive way. Plus, maybe you can pick up some smooth moves for winning arguments.
Advanced calculus: You just found out your three-column photo needs to be stretched to fill a four-column space. Or, your wide-format, four-column story needs to be squished into three long-format columns. How do you figure out how it’s all going to fit together? Solution: There’s a slide-rule for that! New problem: Who actually knows how to use a slide-rule?
Foreign language: Journalism has its own lingo. After a few years in the biz, I still struggle with some of it. I can just about remember the difference between a cutline and a catchline, but I sometimes forget to use a keyline, and I still don’t know what to call that hair-line stroke that goes under the captions (I mean cutlines) of photos.
Physical education: Somebody is going to have to sell ads to pay for printing the school newspaper. I’m sorry, it’s just how the world works. Luckily, there are a lot of businesses within walking distance from the school, whose owners might like the community to see their name connected with such a worthy cause.
Wear a hat and sensible shoes when you go looking for their support. The exercise will be good for you.

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