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Advisers and Editors Center

How to Start a School Newspaper

STARTING A SCHOOL NEWSPAPER GAVE THESE STUDENTS A VOICE

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Starting a school newspaper takes a bit of work. Most of it falls in the initial setup and starting phase. Once you are up and running, your school newspaper can run like clockwork. The following steps detail what may be necessary to get your school newspaper up and running. Not every school need follow every step, and some steps may need to be tailored to the specific circumstances of your school. In general, the following steps on how to start a school newspaper are good for college newspapers, high school newspapers, junior high school or middle school newspapers and elementary school newspapers.

Step #1 — Get Permission & Secure a Room

You may need to approach the school board, the principal, or other administrators. You will need to find a teacher who is willing to sponsor or oversee it and find a room with the necessary equipment to use. Be prepared to answer some basic questions:

  • How will you finance this newspaper?
  • Where will you meet and do the work?
  • Who will be involved?
  • Who will oversee it?
  • What will be the approval process?
  • How many times a year will you be printing?
  • What equipment are you going to need?

The rest of this article will help you answer those questions and help prepare you to answer them when approaching the powers that be.

Once you secure the go-ahead, you will need to secure a room in which to work. This can be the journalism class or any classroom where you have access to computers, tables, and other necessary items. Equipment to consider:

  • At least one large table to meet around for planning sessions and discussions.
  • At least one computer where the staff and build the newspaper.
  • Design software (see below for more information). You can use Makemynewspaper.com’s Online Cloud Designer and templates or use your own Desktop Publishing Software program to build a print ready PDF. For desktop publishing software other than our Online Designer, please be sure to follow our specifications.
  • Access to cameras that can take a minimum of 300 dpi photos for inclusion in your newspaper.

Step #2 — Secure a Newspaper Staff

You need to have a staff to work with. For the most part, this will be students, but at least one teacher needs to be part of the newspaper to oversee it and to handle financing. You are looking for:

  • A Teacher Adviser – This person is necessary to oversee the entire project and to handle any of the necessary finances involved. A teacher can also encourage the newspaper staff to meet deadlines as well as liaison with the school administration.
  • An editor – this is the student who is in charge (not the teacher, though this can be a teacher). The editor will be in charge of deciding what goes into the paper, where it goes, and who writes what. The editor will also approve pictures and other graphics that go into the newspaper. In the final review, the editor will approve the layout and design of the newspaper. The editor may also write some of the articles or do some of the other duties of the staff as needed.
  • Writers – You will need writers to do the actual writing. These can come from a journalism class or volunteers. Writers will write on a variety of subjects including school activities, school athletics, local news, school news, etc. For more ideas for articles and stories, CLICK HERE. A typical 8 page newspaper will carry 8 to 9 articles of roughly a 1000 words per article. You would need at least two writers and as many as 9.
  • Photographers – These individuals can also be your writers, but they take pictures. They go to the various school functions and take pictures specifically for the newspaper. However, you can get pictures from anywhere, even classmates who snapped a few pictures while present. Be aware that some students may not want their picture placed in the newspaper, and with school privacy laws, you may need an "image release form" to get permission first.
  • Layout and Graphic Design Artists – You will need people (or a person) who can layout the newspaper, make things look neat and organized, create the artwork, logos, and perhaps build ads for advertisers.
  • Sales Team – These individuals are only necessary if you intend to go to your local businesses and try to sell advertising to raise money for your school newspaper. They need to be pleasant, genuine, and excited. They can’t be afraid of rejection, and enjoy meeting new people. See our article on Starting a Profitable Newspaper for ad selling tips and advice.
  • Distributors – These are the people who hand out or sell your newspaper. In many cases, you use your other staff members to do this.

Once you have your staff altogether and know who is doing what, you can move on to the next step.

Step #3 — Choose Design Software

Outside of a staff, the most important thing you will need in order to make a newspaper is the design software. MakeMyNewspaper offers a free Online Cloud Designer and free templates to help you. There are significant advantages to using our Designer.

Cloud Design Software Advantages

  • Completely free to use.
  • Much smaller learning curve, not as difficult to begin.
  • Use in any Internet browser.
  • Always updated to the latest versions and features.
  • Immediate integration into printers, digital publication, and other online services.
  • Use on any computer with an internet access (including at home). No installing on multiple computers.
  • Better collaboration tools.
  • No software to download or install.
  • Automatically meets commercial printing specifications (layout, CMYK, margins, etc.).
  • And much more.

There are, of course, other design software packages you can purchase for your school newspaper. If you use one of these other programs, you will need to follow our specifications to ensure that there is no delay in the printing side.

You will need some sort of Design Software to get your newspapers printed, and you'll want something that multiple students will have access to so they can work together to make a newspaper.

Step #4 — How Many Issues to Print?

This is an important one, because the answer to this question will determine how much money you will need to raise. Most schools start out by trying to print twice a semester or four times a year. As you get better at it and as your budget and staff grows, you can go to once a month for roughly 9 issues each year.

Remember, each issue will cost money, so you need to be wise with this decision. In some cases, the financing (see next step) is what determines how often you can print. If 300, 8 pages, 11x14 tabloid, black and white newspapers cost $249 plus shipping and your budget for the entire year is only $1000, then the most you can print is three to four times a year.

Either way, you need to raise the funds to determine how often you can print or you determine how many issues you want to print and then try to raise the money to do so. In addition to the number of issues you want to print, there are other factors that affect the cost of a printed newspaper:

  • Quantity – Total number of newspapers you intend to order. Click here to see prices for 500 copies and less and Click here to see prices for 750 copies and more.
  • Number of Pages – The total number of pages will affect your cost. You must build your newspaper in pages that are divisible by 4 (4, 8, 12, 16).
  • Quality of Paper – Makemynewspaper.com offers two kinds of newsprint: 30# regular and 35# hi-bright.
  • Color versus Black and White – Color obviously costs more than black and white. See our price pages for more information.
  • Page Size – There are two sizes that you can print on at Makemynewspaper.com: 11x14 (our standard size) and 11x17.
  • Shipping Costs – Use our handy shipping calculators to help determine your shipping expenses. You can chose from UPS Ground, 2nd Day Air, or Next Day Air. Click here for Impact and click here for Classic.

All six of those options affect the cost of your newspaper and will need to be determined ahead of time.

Step #5 — Raising Funds

There are four basic ways to raise the needed funds for your school newspaper. However, you are not limited to these ways and a bit of imagination may help you secure the necessary funds some other way.

  • Your School Budget – Many schools have a journalism budget for projects like this and if they don’t, they may be willing to set aside money for it.
  • Journalism Grants – A simple internet search will reveal dozens of journalism grants that you can apply for that will pay for your school newspaper. In general, you will need to have most of the questions posed in this article answered when you apply for them.
  • Selling Advertising – If you can give your newspapers to every student and even to some of the community, advertisers may be interested in placing an ad in your newspaper. This can be an effective means of raising the needed funds. Click here to read an article that talks about ads and ad pricing.
  • Donations – Finding donors may not be hard. A letter sent by the school seeking donors for a school newspaper may result in the needed funds coming in. Call your local newspaper and talk to them about it. They may place an ad for you in their newspaper seeking donations, or they may even become a donor themselves.

Step #6 — Make Your First Newspaper

Once you have the first four steps down (the hard part), the rest of the process is what you will be doing every single time you want to print an issue of your school newspaper.

  • Meet with your staff well before you want to go to print. Determine what articles you want to write about (keep in mind activities and events that are up and coming as well as ones already finished).
  • Assign your writers and photographers to certain tasks and articles. Give them deadlines of the rough drafts and then deadlines for the final version. Give a word count limit or range for each article, set font size, and even font type. Click here for design tips.
  • While waiting for the articles and pictures, the layout and graphic designer(s) can begin building the shell of the newspaper on the software of choice. Logos may need to be designed, fonts chosen, headers built, and ads built.
  • As articles start coming in and are approved by the editor (and/or the teacher), begin copying and pasting them into the design software. Remember to build your newspaper around the articles, not around the photos. Adjust the size of the photos to fit the article lengths. Click here for design tips.
  • Once all the articles and photos have been inserted into the design and the layout is to the editor’s approval, submit your newspaper to your teacher or the administration for final approval.
  • Once final approval is gained, you can print.

Step #7 — Print Your Newspaper

Printing with Makemynewspaper.com is easy. If you used our Online Cloud Designer and Templates, then you merely click the “Order Newspapers” button on the left-hand side of the Designer. If you used your own software to create a print-ready PDF, then click on the "Order Newspapers" tab on the menu bar and then the “Upload PDF & Order Newspapers” from our main website. As long as you have followed our specifications, you will have no problems.

For payment options, you may need to call customer service toll free at (800) 849-0141.

Step #8 — Distribute Your Newspaper

Once your newspapers arrive, give them out! Some schools sell their newspapers for a small price, but most just give them away. If you sold ads, then giving them away benefits your advertisers more. The more people who get one and take one home the better off your school newspaper will be.

Be sure to keep one hard copy for your own school records and as memorabilia.

Questions and Answers

Q: How professional does our school newspaper need to look?

A: You'll want to make it as professional looking as you can. This means doing a first-class layout, making sure your articles are well edited, and that your pictures are clear and crisp. Most likely, this is not something you are being graded on, but it is a reflection on you and your school, so you want to do the best you can. See the resources below for more helpful information.


Q: What is the minimum number of people needed to run a school newspaper?

A: You can get by with two people (other than a teacher). Still, it can be a lot of work, so a division of labors is important.


Q: Can we get an electronic version of our newspaper?

A: Yes. Makemynewspaper.com will allow you to create an eNewspaper that can be posted on your school website, emailed, and posted on social media.


Q: How do I get people to read our newspaper?

A: People love to see their name in print. The more names you include, the more the students will want to read it--and their families. Find reasons to put names in your newspaper. Make your headlines catchy--perhaps even a bit controversial. Catchy titles draw readers in. Have interactive content such as puzzles, comics, mazes, polls, riddles, and so forth. Have lots of pictures of people! Be careful about putting pictures of people in your newspaper that may not want their photos published. You may need to have an "image release form" available to get permission.


Q: Is there something that should NOT be in our newspaper?

A: Be appropriate of course; don't include content that would get your newspaper censored or stopped. Also, be aware that some students do not want their pictures in the newspaper, so you may need to have "image release forms" to get permission for every picture you put in your newspaper.

SEE WHAT OTHER SCHOOLS ARE DOING

Below are just a few examples of what other schools are doing with their newspapers. Take a look and become inspired and find ideas.

Free Cloud Designer Templates

Our templates are 100% customizable, super user-friendly, and designed specifically to help you create outstanding school newspapers with our free Cloud Designer. Below are a few of the 100s of templates available to you. The first three show the various sizes we offer.

Modern School Front Page
Modern School Front Page
11x14
Modern School
Free Template
This is a modern school newspaper front page.
School Front Page
School Front Page
11x17
Modern School
Free Template
This is a modern school newspaper front page.
Modern School Front Page
Modern School Front Page
11x22
Modern School
Free Template
This is a modern school newspaper front page.
School Front Page, 4 Column
School Front Page, 4 Column
11x14
Current Trend Style
Premium Template
This premium template and hundreds more are available with a Designer PRO subscription (click on this template to learn more). Free Templates on this page do not require a subscription.
School Front Page, 4 Column
School Front Page, 4 Column
11x14
Blue Box Top
Premium Template
This premium template and hundreds more are available with a Designer PRO subscription (click on this template to learn more). Free Templates on this page do not require a subscription.
School Front Page, 4 Column
School Front Page, 4 Column
11x14
School Modern
Free Template
School Front Page template that emphasizes various areas of school life. Can be altered for any organization that has specific areas within that can be reported on.
School Front Page, 4 Column
School Front Page, 4 Column
11x14
Classic School
Free Template
Classic, newsy front page for any school. Can be used for any purpose. Great for black and white newspapers.
School Front Page, 4 Column
School Front Page, 4 Column
11x14
Spacious Style
Premium Template
This premium template and hundreds more are available with a Designer PRO subscription (click on this template to learn more). Free Templates on this page do not require a subscription.
School Front Page, 3 Column
School Front Page, 3 Column
11x14
Big & Bold Style
Free Template
Built with not only a banner ad on top, but using a single picture to highlight the current issue's main event. Bottom teases for inside pages.