Changes for Newspaper Association of America Foundation mean changes for journalism education

We introduced ourselves. Most of the group were Newspaper in Education specialists from papers from Arizona to South Carolina. Members of the Newspaper Association of America Foundation staff represented diversity, circulation, communication and educational outreach. Several of the group worked with Youth Editors publications. Three of us represented scholastic journalism — Logan Aimone from the National Scholastic Press Association, Frank LoMonte from the Student Press Law Center and me.

We heard a presentation of the results of the previous 3-year strategic plan. For scholastic journalism, the highlight was that NAAF funded  Jack Dvorak’s research study of more than 24,000 students who took the ACT. The study was a follow up to the study he conducted almost 20 years ago as part of the Journalism Education Association’s Status on High School Journalism Commission. That 1989 study and the 2008 study found that students who took journalism in high school scores above their peers in more than a dozen areas, including English ACT scores and grades as college freshmen. The current study is “High School Journalism Matters” — with an executive summary and full report available on the NAAF Web site.

We heard a presentation on the proposed new 3-year strategic plan. We divided into three groups to discuss the implementation of the strategic plan.

Two main themes emerged from every discussion during the meeting — from the dinner meeting the night before to the small group presentations.

First, the newspaper industry is experiencing an unprecedented time of change. Everyone told stories of colleagues and friends who had lost their newspaper jobs. NAA has downsized from 135 to 85 employees. The primary cause for the job losses is the dramatic decline in newspaper advertising, as advertisers move their ads and their money — primarily to the Web.

Second, NIE programs are hard hit. The Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) calculates a newspaper’s circulation — which then determines advertising rates. To have a higher circulation rate, newspapers can no longer afford to provide free or cost-reduced papers to classrooms — papers which don’t “count” for ABC. Some of the businesses that sponsored NIE programs in schools can’t afford to fund the programs.

One newspaper strategy is to urge schools to pay — or pay more — for the classroom newspapers. But schools are having budget cuts, too, and often can’t afford paying for newspapers. In some states, the newspapers are considered “consumables” so school district textbook money can’t be used to pay for newspapers.

Some newspapers are going to electronic editions of the newspaper for NIE. But having a newspaper on a laptop is a very different classroom experience than having each student have a newspaper. And few classrooms have either the video projection unit or Smart Board that allows for big display for the class.

Much of the discussion focused on strategies to help the NIE programs — from hosting a most cost-efficient convention to utilizing the Web more effectively for distribution of materials that used to be printed and mailed.

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