Leon Nelson Flint.

Newspaper writing in high schools : containing an outline for the use of teachers online

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Agric.tept. Agric.Educ



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Newspaper Writing

in

High Schools



Containing an
outline for the
use of teachers.



By

L. N. FLINT

Profeisor of Journalism in the University of Kansas




NOBLE AND NOBLE, Publishers

It FIFTH AVENUE NEW YORK CITY



Copyright 1917-1922

by
L. N. FLINT



AGRIC. DEPT.



INTRODUCTORY

Cut and dried methods in teaching a subject that
has had a place in educational institutions not much
longer than aviation would be absurd. If anything
in this pamphlet seems to be said with an accent of
finality the reader will please disregard it.

The writer has the temerity to offer the high school
teacher this outline for a course in Newspaper Writing
only because of his having had several years' experi-
ence with English teaching in high schools and some
ten years of experimentation in teaching Newspaper
Writing to college students only one or two years re-
moved from those in high school for whom the course
of conducting a class in Newspaper Writing details
both as to matter and manner all of us are still in
the trying-out period.

L. N. F.



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Newspaper Writing in
High Schools

A PLACE FOR NEWSPAPER WRITING

A discussion of Newspaper Writing in high schools
would, a few years ago, have had to deal at length
with the reasons for such a course excuses rather
than reasons, they would have been called by most
school-men.

But today the place of Newspaper Writing in the
general scheme of language instruction is coming to
be recognized. By no means all who were suspicious
of the "fad" have become friendly, but most of them
are at least tolerant. Best of all, the dislike of teach-
ers of English composition for methods that were
making somewhat vociferous claims of being "prac-
tical" and for "writing" that was associated with a
word having such connotations of haste and sloven-
liness and inaccuracy as "newspaper," has softened
into something quite like interest, if not approval.

Newspaper Writing is winning a place for itself.
That it must still work hard to achieve good standing
in educational circles is not a cause for complaint.
Those who hold any field are quite right in asking to
see the passports of newcomers. Laboratory methods
in composition should be able to come off well from
the most searching scrutiny or else they must expect
to be held under suspicion while further evidence is



6 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

being produced. But they ought, of course, to be
given a fair chance to bring forward the evidence.

Probably the true reason for much of the unwilling-
ness to recognize Newspaper Writing as a standard
English course, came from the fear that such attempts
to make composition interesting were turning it into
mere play; and it cannot be denied that students
busily writing for their newspaper often seem to be
having too good a time to call it work accepting
somebody's definition of work as something we do
when we would rather be doing something else. But,
more and more, teachers of English are wishing it
were true even if some of them cannot quite believe
it yet that students could learn to write without
being unhappy in the process.

Indeed, as the idea gains recognition that self-
instruction in composition is the best instruction, the
companion idea that self-instruction waits on interest
and enjoyment becomes clear. Methods even vaude-
ville methods that supply this interest incentive may
be tolerated. And thus, even in conservative minds,
the methods of a News Writing course sensational
as they may seem to such minds establish their right
to a trial.

THE PURPOSES OF THE COURSE

Two main benefits from a course in Newspaper
Writing in a high school have been seen in schools
where the course has been given : first, to the students
in the class ; second, to the school as a whole through
improvements in the high school paper.

The problem of the paper and the best methods of
handling it will be considered later



THE PURPOSES OF THE COURSE 7

As regards the students in the course, the purposes
kept in mind by the teacher may be somewhat as
follows :

First, is the purpose of developing in the student a
liking for composition, and increasing his ability to
write, by affording him: (1) the stimulus of print;
(2) something about which to write; (3) the inspira-
tion of having an audience, since he knows that his
best work will be generally read; (4) the feeling that
what he writes may not only inform but influence his
readers; (5) the realization of the true utility of rhet-
orical forms of expression as he begins to use them
now not merely to satisfy an instructor but to pro-
duce effects on his public; (6) ability for self-criti-
cism in writing; (7) appreciation of the value of
ideas; (8) resourcefulness in gathering and stating
facts. This first group of aims has to do with the
meaning of the newspaper to the student as a writer.

Second, is the object of developing the student's
power of observation; his understanding of the diffi-
culty but necessity of accuracy; his apprehension of
the raw material of pathos and humor ; his impulse to
help make things better ; his admiration for more fin-
ished forms of literature than journalism affords. All
this constitutes the value of newspaper writing to the
student as a man or woman.

Third, is the aim of giving the student an under-
standing of the newspaper as an institution, an organ
of democracy; of acquainting him with the different
kinds of newspapers; of showing him how to read
newspapers ; of familiarizing him with the significant
facts in the history of journalism in their bearing on



8 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

the growth of freedom of expression. These subjects
form the beginning of that knowledge about news-
papers which is valuable to the student as a citizen.
And the ultimate reaction of such education in the im-
provement of public taste as to newspapers may well
be a prime tenet in the faith of teachers of this subject.

THE COURSE NOT PRIMARILY VOCATIONAL

The course is not to be established with vocational
purposes primarily in mind direct vocational aims,
at least. It has become sufficiently plain that the suc-
cess of such a course depends much on a full recog-
nition and acceptance of this limitation.

Journalism is a profession. Adequate preparation
for it is a serious matter of years, as is preparation for
other professions. It would be most unfortunate
from all points of view if young people in high schools
were encouraged or permitted to think that a course
in Newspaper Writing is a course in journalism. So
clearly is this fact recognized that in one state at
least, with a highly developed school system, the name,
"journalism" as also "law" and "medicine" is not
permitted as a title of a high school course. It is en-
tirely misleading and most unfortunate when so used.

For the sake of the interest incentive, it is well that
the conditions of actual newspaper work be repro-
duced as closely as possible for the class in Newspaper
Writing. It is thrilling to the student to think that
he is doing the same sort of thing for which the world
pays liberally. And the course will inevitably have
influence in vocational directions. But the wise
teacher will never forget that it is fundamentally a



PREPARATION OF THE TEACHER 9

course in composition that it should be the best pos-
sible course in composition and that this is its rea-
son for existence.

The name "Newspaper Writing" corresponding to
the term, "magazine writing" is to be preferred to
the narrower, "News Writing," because it is desirable
that the writing of feature stories, human interest
stories, and editorials be included in the course and
covered by the name.

PKEPAKATION OF THE TEACHER

Books on Newspaper Writing have appeared in con-
siderable numbers during the past few years. The
high school teacher who wishes to take charge of a
class in this subject, but who has had no training in
newspaper work, can acquire from such books a
knowledge of essential facts. Acquaintance with
newspaper men will be of great help. Little journeys
to newspaper offices will reveal not only how things
are done but the spirit in which they are done. And
the teacher needs to breathe deeply of this atmosphere.
Most important of all is close and understanding
friendship for the newspapers themselves, growing
out of careful reading, analysis, comparison, histori-
cal study, and appreciative criticism.

From such experience comes confidence sureness
of touch that wins respect from students, resource-
fulness that enables the teacher to maintain interest
at white heat, and appreciation of the conditions
under which newspapers are made that helps the
teacher to avoid giving students false impressions
and ideals.



10 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

If this practical experience can be gained in a
school or department of journalism where not merely
one method of doing things is practised but where all
methods are tried and compared; where it is some-
body's business to give helpful criticism at every stop ;
and where the broader aspects of newspaper practices
and their interrelations are considered, so much the
better.

But special preparation, through some means, the
teacher must have. In the interests of the students
for whose advantage this work is being introduced
into the schools, it should never be assumed that
whichever member of the faculty happens to have a
vacant period is thereby properly ordained to teach
Newspaper Writing.

AS TO USING A TEXT

The best results the right results are most likely
to be attained when only the newspapers themselves
are used as texts.

It cannot be too often reiterated that the charac-
teristic feature of the course in Newspaper Writing is
its interest incentive associated with the fact of pub-
lication. Therefore the newspaper itself should al-
ways hold the center of the stage.

Moreover, there is a great advantage in having the
student realize at the start a sharp distinction be-
tween the course in Newspaper Writing and all other
English courses he may have had. If he is one of
those who early developed an unfortunate dislike for
composition, or if he is one who has settled in his own
mind that he never can write, this shock of beholding



As TO USING A TEXT H

composition from a new angle is especially salutary.
And it is well if the entire class can be impressed with
the refreshing notion that "here is something differ-
ent." Curiosity is not to be despised, nor the spirit of
adventure, when it may contribute to the end sought
that more or less clumsy handlers of the marvelous
tools of language may teach themselves to do with
skill the things they seek to do. The teacher may well
face his class with only a newspaper in his hand and
only a newspaper on his desk.

For examples of newspaper stories, however, re-
course may be had to the two books of typical stories
mentioned hereafter in the book list. The question
as to how much time to devote to assigned readings in
various books on the newspaper is also touched upon
in that section.

Classics May be Read.

Classics are often read in connection with the
course. It is difficult to see how time can be found
for them if the varied opportunities for filling out the
course with newspaper subjects are embraced. But
certainly there is no incongruity in the introduction
of classics. Indeed a reading course might be planned
which would maintain close and instructive associa-
tion with Newspaper Writing through the fact that
the authors were journalists.

A Place for Current Events.

Current events, if not elsewhere placed in the course
of study, may appropriately receive attention in the
class in Newspaper Writing. In fact they are bound
to receive attention there anyhow. But systematic



12 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

"bookkeeping the news" involves considerable expen-
diture of time.

No Room for Oral English.

Oral English, sometimes dumped into the news-
paper course, seems out of place there. At least the
name seems out of place. Every reporter needs such
training and gets it every time he dictates a story
into a telephone or, as a class exercise, is required to
dictate to an imaginary transmitter but this is to be
regarded as a part of the training in newspaper
writing rather than as "Oral English."

Fees, to Pay for Papers.

To cover the cost of newspapers and periodicals, or
to buy books for the library, a fee of fifty cents each
term will need to be required of each student. In fact,
considering that there is no expenditure for texts,
the fee may reasonably be one dollar.

EQUIPMENT

Typewriters are the most important pieces of
equipment for the newsroom and the class-room
should, so far as practicable, have the aspect of a
newsroom. But the difficulties in providing such
equipment are usually serious. Often they are insur-
mountable: no money for typewriters; no room for
them ; no time except evening when they can be used.
Nevertheless, typewriters are almost indispensable,
contributing as they may to the one great end, perfect
copy. Students may well be encouraged to buy them
or to rent them, individually or in clubs.



EQUIPMENT



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Plans and Specifications for the Type of Copy Desk Found in
Many Newspaper Offices.



14 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

A news or copy desk is a desirable piece of equip-
ment. It has the maximum utility besides doing much
towards creating a newspaper atmosphere in the room.
A prevailing style of desk is shown in the illustration.

Wire baskets for news copy, "time" copy, and edited
copy, are necessary.



10 Point
Century
Bold '

10 Point
Century
Bold



3



TREES NEED NEW BANDS

Canker Worms Crawling Over
Dry Tanglefoot



21 Units



6 Words



8 Point
Century
Bold



STRENGTH OF LIBRARY IS 22 Unite

STRENGTH OF UNIVERSITY 22 Units



(Not to be used on stories of more than one paragraph)
8 Point



Century
Bold



Board Is In Session Today 27 Units



Schedule of News Heads for a High School Paper.



A schedule of heads used in the paper should be
posted conveniently. News-schedule cards and news-
paper style-books should be on the desk.

The need of a telephone will vary with conditions;
but a telephone directory and a city directory are sure
to be of use.



FORMING NEWSPAPER ACQUAINTANCES 15

Such other desirable equipment as maps, a globe,
pencil sharpeners, paper files, and a calendar, suggest
themselves.

A special table or case for high school exchanges
keeps these valuable contemporaries in the right place.



NEWS SCHEDULE





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BAD


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Ruling Suitable for a News Schedule Sheet Enabling the News
Editor to Keep a Check on the More Important Stories.

On the walls may be hung portraits of famous jour-
nalists and framed copies of interesting old papers.
Every community will respond to a call for such
material.

A letter file in which clippings, properly mounted
and systematically arranged may be preserved is in-
valuable. Such a "morgue" will grow in value to the
class and to the teacher. It may also serve as a stim-
ulus to good writing, for there is great glory in writ-
ing an article good enough to be preserved in the
"morgue" for the benefit of future "generations."

FORMING NEWSPAPER ACQUAINTANCES
Some day early in the term the teacher will show



16 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

the class a copy of let us say, the Chicago News and
talk about it somewhat as follows : "Let me introduce
to you a powerful newspaper personality, the Chicago
News. As when you are introduced to a flesh-and-
blood individual, you first get a general impression
from the face. Here is a clean, open newspaper counte-
nance, fairly regular as to features, having a healthy
complexion, good color, and no offensive distortion of
features.

"At first glance you say that here is a personality
both dignified and intelligent, probably trustworthy,
not too insistent on its own views, inviting closer
acquaintance. As your glance wanders, you observe
that this newspaper individual is dressed in good
taste, collar clean, necktie on straight, shoes polished,
hose not too loud.

"As when we are making the acquaintance of a
flesh-and-blood individual, our second set of impres-
sions comes from things said and the manner of
speaking. This newspaper doesn't shout at you, nor
make violent gestures, nor assume a tragic air, nor
'tip you a wink' with a suggestion of a good scandal
story coming. It seems to appreciate that you want
information, and at once proceeds to give it to you.

"Ten minutes with any human being ought to reveal
approximately how interesting he is likely to prove.
Ten minutes with any newspaper personality will do
the same. Is it shallow, thin, or thoroughgoing? Is
it interested only in the present moment keen but
gossipy or is it aware of the past and the future
trying to get the present into perspective? Is it heavy
or snappy in its expression of opinion? Is it well



REPRESENTATIVE PAPERS FOR CLASS STUDY 17

stored with interesting matter beyond mere facts and
opinions?

"A longer acquaintance with a newspaper personal-
ity, as with a human being, will be necessary to demon-
strate whether it is consistent in its purposes, clean
and honest in business matters, independent, humane,
courageous."

All this is merely suggestive of a manner of ap-
proach. The important thing is that the approach
be made in such a way as to lend direction to the
students' efforts in working at a difficult problem.

During the year, students in the class should become
well acquainted with six or eight important news-
papers representing the most common types. To
attempt more than this is to invite confusion in the
mind of beginners. To attempt less is to neglect an
invaluable stimulus to the interest of students in their
work; their understanding of it; their respect for it.

Moreover, this searching acquaintance with news-
papers, and the consequent critical attitude towards
them, works in the direction of that hoped-for by-
product of such courses in schools and colleges, a
demand for better papers.

REPRESENTATIVE PAPERS FOR
CLASS STUDY

It is difficult to pick out from among the news-
papers in the United States six or eight to be recom-
mended as the best for purposes of study. Let it be
taken for granted that the leading state papers will be
accessible to members of the class. For the rest the
representatives of the metropolitan press satisfac-



18 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

tory selection might be made from the following list,
choosing one, at least, from each of the four groups and
paying some attention to geographical distribution.

Help in augmenting the newspaper list may some-
times be obtained from other departments in which the
use of newspapers is particularly desirable. Every
teacher of civics knows how much the study of this
subject is enlivened by a daily search of the news-
papers for instance of civil government in actual
operation. The study of history takes on new meaning
when the students learn to view it in the light of what
he is observing of history in the making. Even in a
course in modern language or in a course in science,
newspapers will be of considerable use. By making
geographical charts of the news found in an issue of
any metropolitan paper, the students' knowledge of
geography may be refreshed. By these and other
means newspapers may be made of service to the
school as a whole, and the school as a whole may be
willing to bear a part of their cost.

GEOUP A

New York Times. Boston Transcript.

New York Evening Post. Philadelphia Public Ledger.

New York Sun. Chicago News.
Brooklyn Eagle.

GEOUP B

New York World. Chicago Tribune.

New York Tribune. Kansas City Star.

Philadelphia North American. Los Angeles Times.



PROVIDING OUTLETS INTO PRINT 19

GROUP C

Springfield Republican. Portland Oregonian.

Columbia State. Indianapolis News.

Christian Science Monitor.

GROUP D

New York Evening Journal. Atlanta Georgian.
Cleveland Press. Washington Times.

San Francisco Chronicle.

The class will be keenly interested in seeing copies
of the London Times or other foreign newspapers that
may come to hand.

Toward the end of the term, when a more intensive
study of newspaper types may be undertaken, it will
be found that the comparative method gives best
results. Students appreciate newspaper individuality
quickly by the aid of contrast such as may be exempli-
fied, for example, by the New York Evening Post and
the New York Evening Journal or the Boston Tran-
script and the Kansas City Star.

PROVIDING OUTLETS INTO PRINT

The definite claims that are made as to the value of
the course in Newspaper Writing center about the
fact of publication. If the teacher will examine the
"psychology of print" he will gain a cheering realiza-
tion of the subtle but potent influence of this aid to his
work of teaching. No other writing incentive ap-
proaches it in vividness for young minds. It puts the
flesh and color of reality and life upon the often for-



20 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

bidding skeleton of composition work. Its stirring
appeal rouses the indifferent. Eevision of written
work becomes tolerable to the student when print is
the object. The necessity for perfection of form can
best be taught, someone has aptly said, through the
"relentlessness of type."

Every available avenue into print, then, should be
discovered by the teacher and opened to the use of
students.



Best of Ally the High School Paper.

A high school paper, as large as conditions permit
and published as frequently as possible is, of course,
the most valuable outlet, The high school Annual
may prove a useful medium. The local papers can
almost always be used to great advantage.

Use May be Made of the Local Papers.

Three methods of employing the cooperation of the
local papers have been successfully used. First, the
publication by the local paper of high school news,
either in a special column or scattered throughout the
paper ; second, the publication of a high school paper
within the local paper, as shown in the illustration ;
third, the issue of special numbers, written entirely by
students.

The last undertaking is sure to be tremendously
interesting to the class, but from the standpoint of
the publisher is hardly judicious.

The high school paper within the local paper has
obvious advantages especially when the high school
has no paper of its own.



PROVIDING OUTLETS INTO PRINT



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igh School Paper Within a Local Daily. It Occupies About
bird of the Page and is Newsy and Attractive in Make-up.



22 NEWSPAPER WRITING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

The daily or weekly column of high school news is
preferable to the plan of scattering such news through-
out the paper, and is most useful if it can have a
characteristic heading and a regular position.

If any arrangements can be made to afford students
an opportunity to write other than high school news
in the offices of the local papers, so much the better.

Correspondence for City Papers.

Opportunities for correspondence for outside papers
will occasionally be discovered and should always be
embraced.

A Modern "Acta Diurna" Will Help.

Lacking some or all of these outlets into print, the
class in Newspaper Writing may "publish" a "news-
paper" on a large bulletin board reserved for that pur-
pose. The material for the "paper" may be written
and edited ; the make-up of the different pages decided
upon; the main heads "printed" with a pencil by
someone in the class who can draw letters; and the
material posted on the board.

Lest the teacher should hastily conclude that this
method is hardly worth a trial, it can be said that one
of the largest schools of journalism uses it exclusively
with good results.

BOOKS FOE BEADING ASSIGNMENTS

The amount of reading to be required of the mem-


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Online LibraryLeon Nelson FlintNewspaper writing in high schools : containing an outline for the use of teachers → online text (page 1 of 4)