Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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Feb. 2, 2012

At Blair, print media stays strong

by Claire Sleigh, Print Managing Sports Editor, Ombudsman and Design Team
The Silver Chips ombudsman is the liaison between the paper and the Blair community.

Is print media dying? Itís a question that professional publications have struggled with over the past decade. In 2009, the Baltimore Examiner went all-online, and newspapers like the New York Times continue to debate how much of their content should be made free to the public online.
Ombudsman Claire Sleigh Tolu Omokehinde
Ombudsman Claire Sleigh

This question has not escaped high school journalists, who look up to national publications as role models. This year, the decorated newspaper of Newton North High School in Massachusetts, the Newtonite, announced that after 90 years of serving the school in print they would be transitioning to all-online content.

Their transition marks a change in high school journalism, but in many respects their situation does not apply to ours here at Silver Chips Print.

One major difference between Silver Chips and professional publications is that we have been able to hold our advertisers, which keeps the paper self-sustainable and independent. Advertisers can continue relying on Silver Chips for a medium because it is a free publication that is distributed to everyone in the school. We arenít as susceptible to the economic pains of a decrease in print readership because Silver Chips is free and reaches the same number of people regardless of the economy.

Our business staff works tirelessly to sell eight pages of ads each issue, and as long as we still have a business staff and companies in the area, Silver Chips Print can stay in business. In fact, our advertisements actually help support the online publication. Up until this year, Silver Chips Print provided funds for Onlineís expenses based on advertising revenue.

Although we are in some part immune to the advertising slump that major print publications have dealt with, it is still important for us as an institution to take into account our relevance as a print media publication. Silver Chips comes out every six weeks. These six weeks are spent developing in-depth stories, editing extensively and laying out pages.

Print and Online play off each otherís strengths, which allows Blazers to be well-informed in a variety of ways. Silver Chips Online is the perfect place for Blazers to look to for breaking news, because they have the ability to update the site 24/7. Our partnership works well, and Silver Chips Print will continue producing a 32-page newspaper because we serve the community in a way that is different than Online.

However, the main issue that Silver Chips is facing right now is not specific to either paper. Silver Chips does not struggle with its relevance as a print paper, but relevance as a paper that represents the diversity of the Blair community. This year, the future of journalism at Blair is at risk.

In 2002, there were eight Journalism 1 sections, the pre-requisite for being admitted to the staff of either Online or Print. This year, other than the three permanent Communication Arts Program (CAP) journalism classes, there is only one other section of journalism - with an alarmingly low enrollment of nine students.

If more underclassmen do not enroll in the Journalism 1 class, the Silver Chips staff faces the possibility of being made up exclusively of CAP students. Not only will this affect the quality of the publication, but it will also make it more difficult for the staff to reach a broad base.

The future of Silver Chips Print rests not in our status as a print publication, but in our ability to attract strong writers on to the staff who represent the diversity of Blair - not just CAP.

If you are interested in signing up for Journalism 1 next year, contact your counselor before schedules are due.



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  • Jerome Glick (View Email) on February 2, 2012 at 9:57 PM
    One thing that we must also be aware of is that new courses have been appearing over the past few years. Simple math tells us that the same number of students divided over more classes will equal fewer students per class. So what is to be done? Get rid of a few classes? Diminish populations of other classes?
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