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Archive,  The Babbler

Prof. Ijams discusses school journalism

Republished from The Babbler, Vol. 4, No. 8, Jan. 25, 1924.

Says student publication faces big opportunity–good advertisement for colleges.

Student publications under faculty supervision have come to stay. In the complex life of present day high schools and colleges there is undoubtedly a place for journalism of the right kind. Recognition of this fact has brought about a steady increase in the number of school publications and a steady advance in their scope and character.

In view of this you will understand the sincerity with which we congratulate the Babbler’s exchanges. They are commendable journals, reflecting new standards of excellence and worthy aspirations. We cannot refrain from commending their spirit to every sincere friend of education. Stand by your school paper; help it find its rightful place of usefulness; help it to recognize and use the big opportunity.

As you doubtless know, school journals had a somewhat precarious beginning. Improvement and growth have been remarkable. It may be suggestively helpful to those now concerned in bringing out better school papers to review the main line of advance.

1. Form.

Form has improved remarkably. The early publications were without any well defined idea of proper form. Well equipped springing plates, suspicious of the financial integrity of poorly supported school publications, frequently refused to have anything to do with them. Thus it happened that second- or third-rate printers took a chance on these experimental publications. The result was poor craftsmanship and poor taste. But times have changed. School journals are now all either the newspaper or magazine type and bound. But for has not yet reached the ideal. We still need the sympathy and expert advice of good printers. We particularly need their advice about what to do with advertisements. Advertisements in school journals are frequently a mockery and a blot upon good form.

2. Purpose

In the beginning school publications had a very limited outlook. They appealed to students only. Alumni were overlooked; friends of the school were overlooked. That of course, was a mistake. Such a view fostered an irresponsible attitude and ended generally as it deserved to end, in suspension by faculty ruling.

Obviously, a school journal ought to have purpose, vision, ideals. It ought to cultivate the respect of all right thinking people and justify its existence, if not by achievement, a least by honorable aspirations. This we are glad to say is what the worthy school paper is now doing.

3. Materials

As long as our journals were with definite standards or aims much of the material used was frotry, inane, tinctured with vain personal references. Fortunately, we are getting away from that–but not quite fast enough.

The methods and ideals of magazine editors are worthy of our adoption. The material in any good magazine is the best the editor can secure. It may not meet his ideals, but it is the best he can assemble under the circumstances. Surely school journals need the same ideals. Your school paper within its limitations, should be just as good as you can make it. On no other basis can it justify continued existence.

4. Individuality.

Individuality is the companion of strength and merit in every enduring work. Conventionality is the god of mediocrity. For that reason there should be no vain copying among student publications. Different schools have different problems, aims, types of students. Why should they thoughtlessly strive to have the same sort of school paper? When the various school journals really find themselves, when they really come to fill their rightful place, each will take on the form and character best suited to its ends and circumstances. It will then feel no more bound by the patter of some other school journal that “Life” is bound by the standards of the “Atlantic Monthly.”

We hope to see the Babbler and its contemporaries keep to the sure roads of progress, and set for themselves the goal of largest service and inspiration. To this end we encourage them “to prove all things and hold fast that which is good.”

By: E.J. Ijams, Education and Psychology

Historical Note: Professor Ijams will become the president of Lipscomb University from 1934 to 1944.