Adapting School Newspaper to the Digital World

We have all seen the decline of the printed newspaper. The world is changing at such a rapid pace. Newspaper giants are seeing less value in a daily publication of news with the advent of Twitter, Facebook, blogs (like this one), and even their own online news apps updated multiple times daily and sent out instantly to our phones, tablets, and laptops.

"When I started we published a printed newspaper that was designed by hand," says Jennifer McQueen, English Teacher and the person in charge of The Centinal, a student driven publication of the daily goings-on of the Centennial High School student body.

And oh boy, have things changed since those days. The twelve-year veteran English Teacher McQueen recalls the changes in the process, from "being designed on computers and then, because of rising publication costs, (moving) to an online publication."
A behind the scenes look of the first broadcast being filmed this year for The Centinal. Pictured (Left to Right): Christen Hutchinson and Michael Pearson

The change has been well received by the students working on these projects, as The Centinal has been transitioning to a news show, with students writing scripts and taking charge of the design of the broadcast. "The most fun we had was making the Full House themed introduction," says McQueen, who has created a YouTube channel for her students' broadcasts (Subscribe to The Centinal YouTube Channel). "We hope to feature different events, sports, students and activities."

Many of these stories start at a news desk, created using a multi-use digital camera, a make-shift green screen, and a MacBook Pro with Final Cut software that the students use to create a backdrop for the newscasters of each episode. Production quality will continue to grow, as their equipment will be upgraded in the coming weeks with the use of a new iPad Mini and a Padcaster, which is a kit designed to enhance any iPad with professional lighting, microphones, tripods, and even using your phone as a teleprompter.

For any teachers that are interested in starting an online YouTube channel as part of a class project or school paper, McQueen suggests that teachers "be willing to experiment because you will make mistakes," and as always in a good 21st century learning environment, "let your students take the lead."

So yes, 24 hour news access has changed the expectations and raised the stakes for all news providers, but the students and staff involved in The Centinal are eager to change with the times to provide Centennial High School with a news show that is entertaining and informative for the entire student population.

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