History of Newspapers In Education (NIE)
June 8, 1795
The Portland (Maine) Eastern Herald published an editorial that read as follows:
“Much has been said and written on the utility of newspapers; but one principal advantage which might be derived from these publications has been neglected; we mean that of reading them in schools, and by the children in families. Try it for one session – Do you wish your child to improve in reading solely, give him a newspaper – it furnishes a variety, some parts of which must infallibly touch his fancy. Do you wish to instruct him in geography, nothing will so indelibly fix the relative situation of different places, as the
stories and events published in the papers. In time, do you wish to have him acquainted with the manners of the country or city, to the mode of doing business, public or private; do you wish him to have a smattering of every kind of science useful and amusing, give him a newspaper – newspapers are plenty and cheap – the cheapest book that can be bought, and the more you buy the better for your children, because every part furnishes some new and valuable information.”
1930s and 1940s
A handful of newspapers, including The New York Times and The Milwaukee Journal, sponsored NIE programs on their own, including delivery of newspapers (sometimes yesterday’s, free of charge) plus curriculum aids and teacher training. Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger, wife of the publisher of The New York Times, was unaware that she was becoming the “mother of NIE” when she lent her support to requests of New York teachers for delivery of the newspaper to school classrooms. As The New York Times program developed, it concentrated as much on delivery to individual college students as it did to public school classrooms. Later, the Times program was offered nationwide. Staff of The New York Times often mentored employees of other newspapers in starting NIE as interest grew in the program. While no official name was yet affixed to school use of newspapers, “Living Textbook Program” was sometimes used to describe the fresh curriculum material available in the newspaper on a daily basis.
This was the decade when the school use of newspapers became a nationally supported program. Keeping pace with educational trends that were shifting from studying the past to studying the present, the newspaper was used to teach current events. In 1954, C. K. Jefferson, a circulation executive with The Des Moines Register and officer of the International Circulation Managers Association (ICMA), persuaded the Des Moines school system to survey 5,500 secondary-school students to find out how they spent their leisure time. He was upset to learn that 30 percent to 40 percent did no reading outside the classroom. Those who did spent only one-third as much time reading as they spent watching television.
Jefferson approached the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), which had already published a pamphlet series on “How to Use Daily Newspapers,” and the National Council of Teachers of English. Both organizations passed resolutions supporting research on the use of newspapers in schools. In 1956, representatives of 10 major professional organizations in education and the newspaper business met at the Drake Hotel in Chicago to plan the research.
It was this research in 1957 that led to the establishment of a national “Newspaper in the Classroom” (NIC) program, first sponsored by ICMA and later taken over by the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA), which became the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) in 1992. Two of the people who directed the research – Merrill Hartshorn, executive director of NCSS, and
John Haefner, professor of social studies education at the University of Iowa and former president of NCSS – subsequently devoted more than three decades to guiding the national program. The first manifestation of the national program was the development of three annual graduate-credit summer workshops that trained up to 100 teachers each year in the classroom use of newspapers.
The number of newspapers sponsoring NIC programs passed the 100 mark during this decade. Programs encouraged teachers of students ages 9-14 to devote two weeks to the study of the newspaper: what it is, how it is produced and how to read it. There was little emphasis yet on the continuous use of the newspaper as a supplementary text in various subject areas. Local newspapers began to
conduct their own promotional and in-service workshops. Some started graduate-credit college workshops similar to those offered on the national level. Most local programs still gave away newspapers, although some began to charge half-price, especially those serving large metropolitan school districts. In 1965, the ANPA Foundation was established as the tax-exempt, charitable clearinghouse for the Newspaper in the Classroom program.
The ANPA Foundation became well known as the major U. S. sponsor of NIC during the 1970s. The Foundation shifted from serving local educators to acting as a catalyst to help local newspapers serve those educators. By the mid-1970s, more than 350 newspapers sponsored local programs. Canada’s programs became a vital part of the picture. In fact, it was the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers Association that originated a new title for the program – “Newspaper In Education” – recognizing the expansion of the educational use of newspapers to institutions and organizations beyond the traditional classroom setting. The ANPA Foundation followed suit in 1976 and the “NIE” title stuck.
Many newspapers employed educators to promote and administer the program. Educational services departments with several staff members were established at some of the larger newspapers. Because of newsprint costs and the potential for increased circulation counts, almost all programs began to charge half-price for school deliveries. The annual NIE Conference became a “must-attend” event
where NIE professionals traded ideas about improving their programs.
This was the decade of increased development of partnerships with national education associations. The ANPA Foundation and the International Reading Association joined forces to sponsor NIE Week each March. In 1987, more than a dozen national groups, led by the ANPA Foundation, cosponsored the bicentennial observance of the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Newspapers were used in
the classroom from kindergarten through college in almost all subjects. Newspapers could also be found outside the classroom for tutoring and adult education, in prisons, mental institutions and nursing homes. Adult literacy became an important component of many programs.
The ANPA Foundation, picking up on an idea started by local newspapers, began to offer newspapers camera-ready NIE study supplements on topics such as national elections, families reading together and the Olympic Games. Many NIE programs established their own partnerships at the local level – this time with businesses willing to sponsor and pay for the delivery of half-price copies of
the newspaper to schools. By 1989, more than 700 NIE programs were in place nationwide, many of them assisted by a growing number of regional and state NIE coalitions.
The ANPA Foundation became the NAA Foundation in 1992. In the early years of this decade, educational and marketing approaches of NIE were helping programs grow exponentially. As publishers and editors recognized the need to invest in future readers, the NIE program became more vital to the newspaper. There was a significant increase in youth content during this decade, with both locally created content often written by teens and with commercially available pages and sections.
More and more independent businesses saw NIE as a potential market and began producing significant numbers of curricula and in-paper content for newspapers. The number of NIE programs grew consistently with a noticeable shift in their location from the promotions/community services department of newspapers to circulation. The end of the decade saw more than 850 NIE programs ctive at newspapers across the country.
In the early part of the decade, more than 950 NIE programs were delivering newspapers and educational programs to nearly 40 percent of all public school students in the United States. Emphasis on state standards and state-mandated tests brought a clear focus on education to the programs. Challenges to the newspaper industry in the wake of the economic downturn in the latter part of the decade have affected some newspapers’ ability to offer NIE. However, many NIE programs are looking ahead to the digital future by making use of electronic editions, downloadable materials, NIE Web sites and other interactive tools. The NAA Foundation is assisting NIE programs with the move to the digital arena by providing a social network through NAA Community for nearly instant interaction and feedback among NIE professionals. The Foundation also continues to develop and disseminate curriculum materials, research
studies and other products via the Foundation Web site, and to showcase examples of best practices via webinars and white papers.
source: NAA Foundation