Most high schools have school newspapers. Many of those report on events outside the school. But few cover world events like CSI High School's International Insider. It is a student-run newspaper with foreign correspondents and editors from field offices throughout the world.
Anam Baig, who was one of the senior editors before she graduated with the class of 2009, explains, “Working on the paper is a chance to explore the world one teenager at a time. The articles we receive from teens from around the world are pure, uncensored accounts.”
Tahani Al Yaghshi, a correspondent in Damascus, adds, “[The paper] makes [me] feel that even though we are from different countries, we can find common subjects to talk about. I'm Arab and I've always wanted to know how the world thinks about our problems.”
The International Insider became an award-winning student international journalism project in its first year. It is the result of student work, but was conceived by Mrs. Nancy Kaplan and Ms. Aimee Horowitz, English teacher and principal, respectively, at the College of Staten Island (CSI) High School for International Studies.
“The International Insider broadens our students horizons by having them connect and share opinions with students from many countries throughout the world. This helps them to develop tolerance, understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives and different cultures,” says Ms. Horowitz.
“Having students from Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Syria, Bahrain, Palestine, and many others is an amazing accomplishment mainly because our paper is so young. Some high school newspapers never see this kind of coverage, even if they've been in production for many years.” Ms. Baig added.
The Insider began in the fall of 2005, shortly after the school opened, with student reporters around the globe collaborating through an Internet blog and email correspondence. Mrs. Kaplan and students are in constant dialogue with students in Bahrain, Belarus, Egypt, Poland, Ramallah, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Before each issue, students, through the blog, discuss ideas for articles. Topics reported on include war reporting, analysis of the genocide in Darfur, global warming, as well as trends in popular culture worldwide.
Vladimir Kalinin, the cooperating teacher in Belarus, finds the experience useful not just for the students, but for the teachers as well: “The work also allows us here in Belarus to feel that we are part of the world family. The International Insider helps us to be in touch with people around the world, share our ideas and way of life, work together for future peace, and put seeds into souls of our young generation, seeds of democracy, values, tolerance and respect for others.”
The CSI High School for International Studies is part of the Asia Society International Studies Schools Network. Core to its mission is to graduate globally competent students who have the international knowledge and skills to succeed in an ever-shrinking world.
Tips on How to Introduce an International Dimension to School Newspapers
The International Insider is run like any other newspaper: adhering to journalistic, editorial, marketing and production standards. But this school paper knows something that others have not yet realized: the standards are known worldwide, and integrating correspondents from other countries is not terribly difficult. Here are some tips:
- Tap into your own international community. The International Insider developed its first international partnerships when faculty advisor Nancy Kaplan reached out to foreign teachers she met on a Teachers Without Borders trip. What relationships does your school have? Use faculty, parent, and community relationships to identify partner teachers worldwide. No time? Consider appointing a parent committee to help.
- Communicate ideas. Web 2.0 offers powerful, free, and easy-to-use tools to facilitate international coordination. The International Insider uses a Blogger account to share story ideas, submit drafts, co-write editorials, and coordinate details. Working on a blog allows students in different time zones to pitch in according to a pre-established monthly or quarterly schedule. Go to Blogger.com or WordPress.org to get started; it’s fast and intuitive. Be sure to give each student a strong password, and to hide the blog from public searches. It’s imperative to install an anti-spamming program, like Akismit (look for a one-click install on the blog administration panel—or ask a student to do it).
- Know the world and weigh perspectives. Have students read international news wires and publications to gain depth and perspectives on stories that interest them. RefDesk.com’s international news listings page is a good place to start. If the student journalists have questions or can’t reconcile perspectives, encourage the students to reach out to their international peers to learn more.
- Publish for the world. In 2009, many newspapers halted print production and moved online. Consider having your student paper as an online publication, viewable to the world. Students can investigate best practices for writing and sharing ideas (and even selling ads and products) online. A good first step is to establish school guidelines; refer to the Child Internet Protection Act for practical child safety standards, such as never publishing a student’s name with photo and school location. From there, involve the student journalists in analyzing models and setting policies.
Do you have other tips? Please share on the comment board below.