Don’t Cling To The Past

This last year, we had to make some really tough decisions about our media program. The first one was whether or not to keep printing our student newspaper. Ad sales have been down and only getting worse for the past three years. Last year we were unable to sell enough ads two times and were forced to kill entire issues. We ended up with only four issues out of six scheduled. This year, the outlook was only worse.

Our first idea was to print in house. Paper costs would be cheaper and our in house copy center wouldn’t charge to print, staple or distribute. But printing on a copy machine was a poor solution. Our photo quality was terrible and nothing we did could solve the problem.

Our solution came when I became the web master for our school. We have had a web site for two years, but we did not put our content online until last year. But this year, we had control of our site and were able to put stories, photos, videos and PDF files online. We had plenty of bandwidth and the principal gave her support.

We did three online issues and hope to add a fourth before the year ends. They are all in PDF format. Next year we will add subscriptions for those who wish to have a hard copy mailed to them. We hope to run a 24-page full color magazine 6 times a year, with both subscription and PDF files for free on the web site.

Our second change was our video news show was now a weekly show – we ran almost every week for nearly 24 weeks, not counting holidays, testing and three-day weeks that were almost impossible to get a show done. Every episode was run in the school on Mondays and posted to our web site for online viewing or download.

The final change is that we are slowly moving from being a journalism program to a technology program. In Texas, students can only get elective credit for journalism. But they can get a required technology credit for Desktop Publishing, Video Technology or Web Design. So, I took the test and became certified to teach technology.

The classes will still produce a television show – news, sports, etc., a news magazine and a yearbook. But now, they will get tech credit. Sometimes you have to be willing to make a change and not cling to the past. I’m still a journalism teacher, and will teach media ethics, reporting and standards too.

Mr. C

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