Teaching journalism with blogs

Printing a high school newspaper can be expensive. Is the alternative to have no school newspaper at all? I hope not!

Here’s an example of high school students using a group blog as their student newspaper: OldeSchoolNews.com.

Bud Hunt, an English teacher at Olde Columbine High School in Longmont, Colorado, said in an interview:

We have about 100 students in our school. I used to print 80 to 100 copies of the school newspaper and throw away 30 to 50 of them a month. Now we have about 4,000 visitors to our site every month from around the world. One of my favorite things is showing my students the statistics from the site and say, hey, look at where people are coming to us from. They realize very quickly that their writing is part of a larger fabric, and that’s huge.

I require upper-level college students to keep individual blogs for 12 weeks, posting twice a week for a grade. My class assignment is more about the act of blogging than Hunt’s group project, so you can compare them for two very different approaches.

A year ago, Slate editor Jacob Weisberg said every journalism student should be blogging “for lots of reasons.”

For examples, you could learn from a project completed by Jay Rosen’s students at NYU last March: The Best Blogging Newspapers in the U.S. They concluded that the Houston Chronicle has the best bunch of blogs among the 100 largest U.S. newspapers’ Web sites.

The Chronicle is not the most adventurous in what it blogs about … but the site does everything well, starting with its Blogs main page, which features — before you get to any staff blogging — a section called Chron.commons, “Blogs from our Readers.”

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