I teach the fourth and fifth graders at Colonial School some of journalism’s old traditions, not because they’ll be useful someday. They won’t. After all, these kids are publishing their school paper as a news blog, using WordPress. It’s more for the fun of it, and sharing the history, before that history is forgotten.
One thing I make them do is put -30- at the end of a story. This is the old code once used on newspaper copy to indicate a story is finished. As it turns out, it actually helps in my work with the Colonial kids because they file using Google Apps, and if they write the story at home, it’s often the only way I know they’re done. Many of them don’t have email yet.
So I’ve invited them to write stories over the summer. They get a pizza party if they do. And one of my reporters, Francesca, is filing from Italy, on the disappearing beaches. When I checked the story yesterday, I found this at the end:
-29- (almost done)
Now that’s adapting an old code to a new use. I wished I’d thought of that when I was late for deadline in my newspaper days.