"Zeitung macht Schule" is a journalism project for school students from the 5th grade on in the coverage area of Passauer Neue Presse and its local editions.
A good companion on the road to success
By Gerd Brunner
We live in an information society. Never before have people been flooded day by day with so much information from all areas of life as they are today. Newspapers and magazines, radio and television, internet and mobile phones ensure that we are fed with information virtually non-stop. Never before has it been so difficult to pool together, sift through and select from the vast amount of information. Not every piece of news is important, not every piece of information is correct.
It is becoming more and more important for young people to be able to find their way through the flood of information. They should learn to select, not to accept unquestioningly what they are presented with. They should learn to act as critical citizens acquiring the information they need to be able to take their place in society in future.
For this reason, Passauer Neue Presse GmbH, the publisher of Passauer Neue Presse and its 15 local editions, participates in the "Zeitung macht Schule" project.
The newspaper becomes teaching material which, whilst it provides information, also permits the students to ask questions about this information. How is news formulated, how is it selected? Why is a particular news item published? What value does this or that news item have for which group of people in society? What - and who - is behind this news item? A lot of questions, to which there are a lot of answers, which are worked through together.
"Zeitung macht Schule" allows school students to act as reporters themselves, to take up an issue, research it, gather facts, to select and assess them, and finally to put them into a journalistic form. As a news item or a report, as a survey or a documentary or - with their own evaluation - as a commentary.
The results are often astounding. School students see the world differently from adults, and differently from journalists. They see the same event in a totally different light. They want to know things that adults often never consider, they ask questions more openly and directly, they dig deeper if they do not understand something - and they write like they speak.
But at the same time they learn that you will only get an answer if you ask the right question. They learn not to be satisfied with the first answer they get. They learn to question the information supplied to them, to check it for its truthfulness. They learn to distinguish what is important from what is unimportant - in other words, they learn to be critical.
And not least: the daily use of the newspaper in school promotes communication between one another, the exchange of news and views. Very quickly, the students find out that the exchange of information and opinions, the exchange of knowledge, not only promotes cohesion but also their own personal development. More knowledge means more opportunities.
More opportunities in life - that may sound pretentious, but "Zeitung macht Schule" aims to and is able to make a contribution towards this. When the students one day stand successfully on their own two feet, we are glad. Once again, we see evidence that newspapers are a good companion on the road to success!
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