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Student newspapers make your voice count

By SUSAN HOOD, Laker Current advisor

Susan Hood

In some circles, there is the belief that students, like children, should be seen and not heard. But nothing could be further from the truth – especially when we’re talking about your education and your future.

Students are the future – the next teachers, nurses, entrepreneurs and leaders – and what is learned and understood now becomes a part of what makes you tick later.  The experiences of thinking, interpreting, decision-making, prioritizing and even making mistakes, are invaluable lessons and are all part of the process.

That’s why becoming informed is so important.  But becoming informed is only the first step, followed closely by becoming involved. That’s why student newspapers are so important today.  And that’s why when no student paper exists, there is a serious void on college campuses.  What happens to the student voice?  Where is it represented and heard?  Sure, students can attend meetings and even, in some cases, sit on boards. But what about responding to and having a say in what’s going on in your educational environment – on a regular basis?  Or how about just spouting off on an issue or a situation that demands your unique perspective?

That’s where a student newspaper can play a vital role. And you, as a student, can and should be a part of it. Sure there’s facebook, but somehow that falls short of the writing discipline, communication skills and sense of responsibility that accompany your affiliation with a newspaper and its staff.

Whether you just read it and react, or contribute to it as a regular writer, editor or photojournalist,  you are making the first move in taking charge of your education – and your future.

The Laker Current has been around as an online publication for almost 15 months now. Odds are, most of you – students and faculty alike – never knew it existed. In all likelihood, even more of you never have visited www.thelakercurrent.com.  So, as a new school year begins, the staff decided to try printing an edition.

I know, I know. This is the age of i-Pads, smart phones, facebook, and going green. Killing trees and printing papers violate our society’s values (and may even insult some environmentalists).  Yet all recent studies show that college students actually prefer to read a printed student paper. Why? It’s handy, more inconspicuous to read in class or at lunch. You can grab one and look at it later. You can read it in pieces. Share with your friends.

According to a March 2012 story in The Washington Times, about 60 percent of all college students have read their college newspaper, said Tammy Nelson, vice president of marketing and research for Re:fuel, a niche marketer. There are about 1,800 college papers at the 4,400 higher-education institutions, according to the report.

“According to a survey that the company conducted of reading habits of college students in 2011, 88 percent of those who do read the school paper have read one of the past five issues. Three-fifths say they prefer the print version, compared with 16 percent who prefer to get their college news fix solely online,” the The Washington Times article went on to say.

Students indicated that reading the print newspaper was the easiest way to stay current on school happenings, according to the survey. In general, students said they had a tendency to use their online time for Facebook, Web surfing and academic research.

So call this print edition of The Laker Current an experiment. A part of your education.  An opportunity to become informed. A call to get involved.  As a student, you should be heard. But before you’re heard, you need to be informed. The Laker Current wants to do just that – keep you informed of what’s happening on campus, tell you of events and happenings in your immediate area, and give you the opportunity as a contributor to tell your own stories.

Some of you may look at the past Laker Currents and say it doesn’t do nearly enough to keep me informed of what’s happening on campus. My point, exactly. Without more student involvement, The Laker Current will fall well short of what it can – and should – be.

So if you like what you see here – and particularly if you don’t – join us and make sure your voice is heard, your story is told, your mark is made on your education and on your future, regardless of your field of study.

(Susan Hood is the faculty advisor for The Laker Current.)

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