Supporting student media with technology and budgeting

Just as the science lab requires specialized equipment such as microscopes and incubators, journalism classrooms need up-to-date digital cameras, computers and software.

Because journalism provides hands-on application of 21st-century skills, the classroom has unique needs in both setup and equipment. Administrators should allocate adequate funds to create the best learning environment.

Classroom equipment is expensive, but having current technology available is critical. Students experience real-world journalism through desktop and online publishing, photo editing and other digital media activities. Administrators should include the adviser in the planning process to ensure the best items are purchased for student use. It’s important also to allocate funds annually for equipment repairs and upgrades.

Student media programs also benefit from additional financial support. For example, providing a small annual budget to the adviser to take a group of students to a conference or convention helps. Even when only a small group attends outside learning opportunities, others benefit from the knowledge and ideas students bring back to the classroom.

Another way to offer a small financial contribution is for schools to pay annual memberships to state or national press associations, which signals administrators recognize and value the professional development, networking, programs and materials these journalism organizations provide.

Classroom checklist:
• 1:1 computer-to-student ratio
• Digital cameras and recorders (photo/video/audio)
• Internet access (including wireless, if possible)
• Projection device
• Current industry-standard desktop publishing and photo editing software
• Work areas with tables
• Shelves for reference books
• Whiteboards
• Mailboxes or storage cubes
• Area for smaller meetings (similar to an office) if possible
• Phone access
• Lockable storage units

Having a well-equipped classroom is just part of the key to a journalism program’s success. The other part comes from students’ ability to research and report on an ongoing basis. This requires unfiltered online access so students can use Internet resources and tools. Students with mobile devices must be encouraged to use them as additional tools rather than be punished for taking advantage of technology from home.

See also:
The value of using social media in journalism
Internet access and safety
Content development from start to finish

Starting video from scratch: equipment

Mobile journalism reporting tools guide