CAREERS AND EDUCATION ISSUE: The evolving state of high school newspapers
"The biggest issue the Eagle faced this year was the budget to print the paper," Woo says. "Budget cuts have been made throughout California schools and any available funds have been used sparingly and are directed towards basic necessities." Her paper's budget came mostly from Washington's parent-teacher-student association, as well as community sponsors, and local businesses that advertised within its pages.
Pramana and the staff at Lowell High School rely on print advertisements as the main source of budget for the paper. Members of the Lowell's staff are required to sell at least three advertisements per semester so the paper can plan on a fixed amount of finance.
Perhaps most surprising — and perhaps telling of journalism's current flux — is that neither Pramana nor Woo are hoping to pursue journalism as a career.
Woo, now a freshman in college, is a film and media studies major at the University of California Santa Barbara and aspires to become a movie director. "A career in journalism was definitely an option for me, but I found something I loved doing even more, which is filmmaking. I still love to write and who knows, things down the road might change and I'll just fall in love with journalism all over again."
"I doubt I'd work as a journalist, but I might blog in my spare time," says Pramana, who plans to study computer science after graduating next spring. "I think a career in journalism is possible, just not in the way it was a decade ago. Instead of working for a newspaper or syndicate, more writers will turn to smaller news websites or start blogging independently. This gives them more control over how their work is published and compensated. Newspapers are laying off their employees because print journalism involves too much overhead to be viable and competitive with niche news websites."
Both editors say that the majority of the students on their newspaper staffs don't have plans of continuing on the path to a career in journalism.
"The individuals behind The Eagle don't all necessarily have long term goals of becoming journalists," says Woo. "There are some who, in the process of choosing their classes, found journalism to be interesting and applied for it to try something new and see what the class had to offer. There are those who join in the hopes of improving their writing and English skills. There are the returning second, third, or fourth year journalism students, and there are the aspiring journalists. And there may be a few students who didn't know what classes to choose and therefore chose journalism on a whim."
As they continue to find success with their publications in print and on the web, the youngest crop of Bay Area journalists are hardly calling to "stop the presses." But judging from their experiences, changes may be on deck in the world of newspapers.
Sean Hurd is a senior at Lick-Wilmerding High School and co-editor of its student newspaper the Paper Tiger