Student newspapers, schools adjust to declining numbers

WAUSAU – Student interest in newspapers may be down, but Wisconsin schools are using new technologies and approaches to adjust, the Wausau City Pages reported Thursday.

The Jet, student newspapers

Breanna Narlock and Sam Davisson hold up issues of The Jet in the hallway at D.C. Everest Senior High. (Photo and illustration by Wausau City Pages)

Some, like Wausau East High School, are taking a multi-disciplinary approach to newspapers. Rather than offer a traditional publication that appeals primarily to those with journalistic interests, they’re planning a new course that will teach students about technology, writing, business and marketing as they produce an online-only newspaper, The Skyrocket.

Others, like The Jet at D.C. Everest Senior High, have reduced publication frequency along with dwindling staffs. With fewer issues, the students have the opportunity to write more in-depth features and broader enterprise stories, rather than focus on breaking news. Wausau West’s high school newspaper has made a similar move to become a magazine published twice a year.

Overall numbers in Wisconsin have fluctuated, with the Kettle Moraine Press Association reporting 28 newspaper members this year, up from 19 a year ago but down from 38 during the 2014-15 school year. KEMPA’s total number of publications, which also includes magazines, yearbooks and online-only publications, has declined as well over the same time period.

Those that are still involved, however, say they find it rewarding. Sam Davisson, a 17-year-old senior at D.C. Everest, said The Jet taught him how to stay objective and gave him “insight into what goes into journalism.”

“It’s not as easy as you might think it might be,” Davisson told the City Pages.

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