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The Newspaper in Education and Youth Readership Program

of the New Jersey Press Foundation

 
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Reading, Writing and Classroom Instruction

Key to Success: Personal Involvement With Schools

Reading, Writing and Classroom Instruction

BY CYNTHIA FORSTER
Manager, Education Services, The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)

Enter any school in New Jersey, mention Newspapers in Education, and teachers should know what you are talking about.
They may not personally receive newspapers, but they know teachers who do.
If your area teachers look at you with a questioning stare, your newspaper isnıt there yet. It may be time to take a long look at your missed revenue and community service opportunities.
It may also be time to send a representative to one of the meetings of the NJNF Statewide NIE Committee.
In the past 10 years, NIE programs have made great strides, increasing educational circulation and increasing students' knowledge of what a newspaper has to offer, whether on a weekly or a daily basis.
NIE is on the front line of creating adult readers, and the task is not easy.
In the United States, one out of every four adults functions at the lowest literacy level. Four out of 10 American children have trouble learning to read. And in New Jersey alone, more than 17.6 percent of the population is now foreign born and learning English as a second language.
Newspapers provide a motivational resource for all age levels - from kindergarten through adult learning, and for all student populationsıfrom standard classroom settings to specialized learning.
Newspapers also mean better test scores.
As one educator mentioned when writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education: "The words that turn up on the SAT are not obscure or archaic. They are words that routinely appear in metropolitan dailies, weekly news magazines, or any serious nonfiction book."
A recently released Educational Testing Service study recommended that teaching materials for adult literacy look and read like normal adult reading materials, such as newspapers and manuals that do not announce their reading level on the cover.
As newspaper representatives we already know these facts, but it is up to the NIE programs to tell school administrators, teachers, and students. In this and other ways, these professionals do a great service for your newspaper.
They are salespeople, educators, and public relations representatives rolled up into one, taking your banner to a population that may not automatically pick you from the newsstand.
As chairman of the NIE Statewide Committee, I have had the privilege of working with these dedicated professionals for the past two years.
As one way of getting the newspaper message out to educators, we have hosted a table at the New Jersey Education Association Convention for the past three years.
For two years we have produced a poster featuring Miss New Jersey and the words: "Read For Life."
We have coordinated a statewide essay contest for middle and high school students about living without hate.
We have hosted a workshop on the ABC rules for NIE programs at the spring circulation conference, and we have had speakers to help our own NIE professionals learn about educational programs going on in the state.
We have done these activities to not only get the message out to the state that we exist, but to help all of us get as good as we can be at our job.
Each NIE program runs differently. Some feature in-paper activities for children, while others cannot afford the space. Some do workshops in schools, while others send out curriculum materials. Some are totally sponsored through corporate donations, while others thrive on paid school orders.
In 1992, 25 percent of all newspapers went to schools through corporate donation. By 2000 that number rose to 40 percent.
Vacation donation funds from subscribers have also risen dramatically for all newspapers, just as NIE circulation itself has taken off and become an important part of the total newspaper circulation figure.
At The Record, our NIE program, supervised by Circulation Sales Manager Sharon Cole, coordinator Andrea Spaeth and me try to blanket our delivery area of Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson counties with a quilt of learning that doesnıt just mean placing newspapers at school doors, but physically going through those doors ourselves to teach the teachers and students how to use those newspapers.
It means a network of outreach to the educational community and producing curriculum materials and in-paper activities ourselves to fill the void. It means conferences and in-service programs for hundreds of teachers at a time.
We pride ourselves on having an award-winning program, taking national honors in the NAA's NIE General Excellence Award for two years in a row, and winning the NAAıs Innovators in Education Award two years in a row.
These items don't place papers, but they help us to measure our impact with our audience, to tell us if we are doing a fairly good job or not. And this is just our program.
Throughout the next months you will hear from a number of other NIE professionals. This column is just the prologue.
Each month a different NIE coordinator, manager, or director will take the platform to talk about a different aspect of the mission we face. They may also include information about their own program.
So look and learn.
NIE is our future readers, our future leaders.
We cannot afford to ignore its impact.
As Walter Cronkite said so aptly: "How can we turn out better informed young people with a genuine curiosity about and involvement in our world? We could start by using the daily newspapers in our public schools."

Cynthia Forster is chairman of the NIE Statewide Committee of the New Jersey Newspaper Foundation. A former teacher and journalist, she has a Master of Arts degree in communications, as well as a secondary certification in English. She has also done graduate work in curriculum development and supervision. Besides working in education services, she is presently on the adjunct English faculty at Bergen Community College.

The Key to NIE Program Success Is Personal Involvement with Schools

BY STEVEN J.GONDELMAN
Former NIE Coordinator, The Press of Atlantic City

Coordinating a Newspaper in Education program in New Jersey is not only challenging, but I often ask myself, "Where am I going to have so much fun on the job?"
The Press NIE program, like all others in the state, rests on three legs: circulation, marketing and finance.
Akin to all of New Jersey, our readers are rich in family, school and work ethic.
But we are not unique in having to tailor our program to social and economic considerations.
Look closer.
I work in a town whose main industry is gambling houses. The biggest heading in our yellow pages is "Escort Services," and some of my potential readers must hunt and fish for their daily protein.
The newspaper in education program of The Press of Atlantic City isn't all boardwalk and casinos.
Regardless of the challenge, our NIE program shares the same goals as those programs not fortunate enough to serve the beaches, Pine Barrens and bays of non-suburban New Jersey:
- To spread the gospel of newspaper as a tool of education;
- To develop programs that sustain teacher interest while enhancing their skills as professionals;
- To translate this into quantifiable increases in circulation, in hopes that we are building a new generation of readers.
- To find a way to pay for all this.
What makes NIE productive at The Press is the central role of the paper in our diverse communities and the relationships established with the schools we serve.
Each month I call or visit most of the 190 schools in our readership area.
I have learned the secretaries' names and remember their families. I know which principals are talkative, which teachers like to know what special supplements are coming out and who likes contests.
I show up for breakfast or lunch with an arm full of papers and cookies. Iım there for staff development, demonstrating, answering questions and providing lesson material. Every call is returnedıthose requesting classroom materials returned first. And Iıll take any group on a tour of the plant.
Iıve learned to anticipate need. I know which schools use every part of the paper, and use it in every grade. I have learned where my thank-you letters will come from.
This type of participation is easy for me I have 34 yearsı experience in the classroom. Iım comfortable in a school setting - and it has paid off. We donıt lack for new circulation. Teachers approach PTAıs and community based organizations for NIE funding. Last year, a few phone calls brought out 600 entries for the New Jersey Press Foundation Essay contest, one-third of the statewide total. We represent our paper on the Atlantic County Reads initiative.
Through our auspices, distance learning for six Atlantic County high schools allowed students to hear and interact with a nationally known visiting professor. The opportunities for increased readership in those schools were successfully addressed.
On Mondays our 10 ıNIE Questionsı appear in print. My column? It may be current, historical or based on a newspaper feature. Sometimes I even borrow a few from other paperıs websites. About the second week of each month, I get $100 from a retired gentleman. I mail him copies of the questions. Does he want to ensure continued printing of questions or he is ensuring that in some school down here, a kid starts his day with the paper? In an area where your major industries do not market to children, the support of your community is vital. When grandparents want to know whatıs in the NIE, you have done much to transplant the daily paper habit to another generation.
Steve Gondelman is newspaper in education coordinator of The Press of Atlantic City. A 34 year veteran social studies and business education teacher in the New York City public schools, he helped found the Bi-Lingual Education program, taught honors classes for 22 years, writing much of the curriculum and coordinated the pre-college opportunities program at St. Lawrence University.

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