As technology is rapidly swallowing high school and college students worldwide, the significance of a structured newspaper and all it promotes must be emphasized. A school’s newspaper is an essential reflection of its community, including the students, faculty, and programs within it. Given the technological boom, many academies have switched from printed to online papers. The controversy over this movement is vast, and conversation abounds about its impact on students and the future. Recent studies have revealed students’ preferences regarding an online as opposed to a printed newspaper, and the positive academic impact journalism can have on student writers. Accordingly, students at Friends Academy would benefit from the resurrection of our printed newspaper Inkwell, which would also prompt a rise in readership, as a recent survey suggests.
In the past several years, many studies have elucidated the direct connection between involvement in school journalism and academic success. One study by the NAA Foundation in 2008 looked at the academic gains of students involved in school newspapers and yearbooks. Their results– better high school grades, higher ACT scores, and better grades as college freshmen. Jack Dvorak, Ph. D. and director of the High School Journalism Institute and professor in the School of Journalism at Indiana University, conducted a survey comprised of 3,100 students from all 50 states and foreign countries. His survey successfully juxtaposed the academic achievements and ACT scores of students active in high school newspapers or yearbooks with those of compact journalism experience. Taken by over one million high school students annually, the ACT is a national college entrance exam. Dvorak’s results revealed successes of students who had journalism experiences encompassing writing, publication design, and photojournalism through work on high school yearbooks and newspapers. Twenty percent of students active in papers and yearbooks scored better on this exam, along with earning higher grade point averages in high school. All surveyed students had taken the ACT as either juniors or seniors within five years of the study. Their test files reveal individuals’ ACT performance, extracurricular activities, and overall high school grades. The difference in performance of students involved in journalism and those who were not was statistically notable. Those involved in journalism scored higher in the following: overall high school GPA, high school mathematics, high schools social studies, high school science, high school English courses, ACT English score, ACT reading score, ACT composite score, college freshman GPA, and college freshman English grades. Specifically, students participating in newspaper and yearbook staffs had a grade point average of 3.38 compared to those without journalism experience, who held a high school GPA of 3.28.
Coinciding with this statistical ranking, grades in individual courses also differed from active journalists and those not specifically in English, where a grade of 3.52 compared to 3.37. Additionally, practically half of the high school journalism students were enrolled in an AP or honors English course, along with AP or accelerated social studies and foreign language courses. It should be noted that although this study “does not resolve the issue of whether students do better because of their journalism work or because students involved with journalism are better students”, it does indisputably prove that “high school journalism experience translates into better college performance in several key areas, such as the ability to express oneself clearly and reason incisively”. (“High School Journalism Matters”:https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/NIE_High-school-journalism-matters.pdf)
As statistically proven in the studies I’ve referenced above, student involvement in the school newspaper is remarkably beneficial; however the real power of a school newspaper is the reflection it has on a school. It gives student writers a chance to express themselves freely, while informing their peers of upcoming events and world news annually. A school newspaper displays the character and tone of a school, including its level of intellect, sports, extracurricular opportunities, student body, faculty relationships, and more.
Currently, Friends Academy’s newspaper Inkwell is only accessible online. However, a change of this status is in progress due to the potential benefits and popularity of a printed newspaper. After recently conducting an online survey taken by FA students and faculty alike, the overall 101 responses directly supported this reasoning. As expected, over 56% of the surveyors answered they never read Inkwell, along with another 25% reading it monthly, and the final 14% reading it solely yearly- only 3 people responded to reading Inkwell weekly. Following this, respondents were asked if their probability to read Inkwell would be greater if it were printed and accessible around school, rather than purely online- 73% responded yes. Additionally, 90% of respondents don’t currently write for Inkwell, and 53% answered there would be a better chance of them writing if printed copies of Inkwell were available around our campus and community. The final question asked if a printing Inkwell would be more beneficial than continuing editions online; 73% surveyed yes. These numbers demonstrate an outcry for the conversion of a printed Inkwell by our students, faculty, and community at large.