Newspapers as an Instructional Tool

As newspapers struggle to remain relevant in the digital era, there are a few places, such as libraries and classrooms, where these print tomes are still highly regarded and valued.

With the availability of 24-hour news channels, news apps on our tablets and smartphones, and websites, a typical printed newspaper can literally be “yesterday’s news.” But students and library patrons still enjoy the experience of the newspaper and the newspaper is necessary in some cases.

“The newspaper is a piece of living history,” explains Dennis Dunn, Circulation Director for The Anniston Star, one of the country’s oldest, longest running, and most respected family-owned newspapers. “It might not be a headline that happened ten minutes ago, but it is still important information.”

Even more important than the timing is an entirely different factor: credibility. With the bombardment of internet news sources all claiming to have the most recent information and with all-day news channels struggling for ratings while vying for viewers’ attention spans, it’s easy to see how flashy can quickly replace believable.

“Newspaper journalists are trained and educated to report the news, and they’re held to a standard of excellence,” explained Dunn. “The time it takes us to slow down and fact check every aspect of a story, to put in the hours of making phone calls and conducting interviews, that’s what lets readers trust us as a news source. It’s no small responsibility.”

This level of truth in reporting and accuracy is part of why schools have especially come to rely on newspapers in the classroom. With more and more schools placing an emphasis on digital literacy and technology, a common topic now is to help students track down the sources of their information.

For that reason, schools and libraries throughout the country are still taking part in a decades’ old initiative in which local news outlets supply classrooms with print editions of the newspaper. Boston Herald has a “Newspaper in Education” program that has been delivering printed newspapers to schools for over three decades. To improve upon this program with technology advances, they recently moved to provide school libraries access to their website so research could be done more easily. Universities around the world are providing access to digital tools such as PressReader so local and foreign students can access over 2,500 global newspapers and magazines for credible sources.

Other schools such as for English as a Second Language (ESL) learning are still relying on newspaper as a teaching tool with the letters, advertisements and other sections of a newspaper providing useful content and digital editions have enhanced features such as bookmarking and translation which makes preparing class material easier.

Both libraries and classrooms have had long-standing relationships with the daily printed news. Despite changes in the landscape of news industry, that isn’t likely to change in the near future, especially with help of innovations that bring the printed newspaper to digital platforms.