School newspaper scheme launched


An initiative to give transition year students a better idea of how newspapers work and to improve literacy was launched today.

From Monday, the Press Pass scheme will see free national and regional newspapers delivered to 14,000 students in 250 schools over a fortnight and will be accompanied by a workbook.

The idea "should help to improve literacy standards for those students taking part" because of the "strong yet practical focus on reading and writing", Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said today. The initiative by National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) is in conjunction with the Department of Education.

NNI co-ordinating director Frank Cullen said the newspaper representative body was "happy to support" the Minister in trying to address the State's literacy levels.

Literacy was not just about reading but about becoming "media critical" and learning "how to understand the media" and about valuing different sources, Mr Cullen said.

By reading newspapers, young people also developed "real life knowledge of our society and our world", he added.

The project would get "credible well-written press into young people's hands if they haven't been exposed to that as a daily experience at home," NNI chairman Matt Dempsey said

The "great advantage of newspapers" was that they were collated from "reputable sources by reputable people and put down in print easily and at a pace that suits the reader", he added.

The workbook with the scheme gives practical insights into five areas of newspaper journalism: news, sport, features, analysis and photojournalism.