Newspapers have a long history of being regarded as a useful educational tool, and their use in a classroom setting dates back further than most might expect. Take, for instance, this quotation:
"Much has been said and written on the utility of newspapers; but one principal advantage which might be derived from these publication has been neglected; we mean that of reading them in schools, and by the children in families?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! (Cowen 1)"
Although this statement reads like an educator or newspaper publisher of today might have said it, it comes from an article printed in the EasternHerald, June 8, 1795, in the state of Massachusetts. Exemplifying the fact that newspapers have long been viewed as informational tools, this statement also speaks to the tenure of newspapers as an institution. Actual recorded uses of newspapers in the classroom are dated in the 1890s, and in 1911, "The Volume Library" gave great attention to the value of teaching with newspapers.
There are many events throughout the twentieth century that also helped develop the prevalent use of newspapers we see in classrooms today. The outbreak of World War II lead to a greater number of students reading the newspaper, both for informational and instructional purposes. In 1929, Richard S. Kimball published a book titled Current Events Instruction. This book was widely accepted by educators of the time, and because it contained suggestions for incorporating current events in the classroom, also became used extensively. Part of Kimball?s instruction for students becoming strong citizens was reading the newspaper. In 1939, Luvella and Alfred Reschke wrote The Newspaper in the Classroom, which contained specific lesson plans incorporating the newspaper as an instructional and enrichment tool. The idea behind this book stemmed from a contest named "How to Use the Newspaper in the Classroom," in the MilwaukeeJournal. Successful teaching methods contributed by teachers made up the majority of the book, and as a result, the book became popular among teachers.
C. Ken Jefferson, a circulation manager at the Des Moines Tribune and Register has been nicknamed the "father" of the Newspaper in the Classroom Program. He was interested in the "effect of newspaper route work on a boy?s grades and activities both in and out of school" (Cowen 9). When outside reading levels for delivery boys and non-working children both came back as poor or non-existent, Jefferson became interested in helping to incorporate newspapers into school reading programs. After many phone calls, meetings, studies in classrooms throughout the U.S., and recommendations from the Youth Reading Study Committee, the Newspaper in the Classroom Program was born in 1957, sponsored by the International Circulation Managers Association (ICMA) and...