For those of you who have had the pleasure of reading either the Chester Spotlight or Chester Matters papers, you would have to agree that they are not like any other newspaper you’ve ever seen. Why? Because it’s not a newspaper.

Although it’s printed on newsprint paper giving it the appearance of a newspaper, the content and layout resembles a magazine or newsletter.

I want my papers to perform a job. They are to promote the good stuff going on around Chester, give businesses an affordable opportunity to present themselves to the local consumers with advertising, and educate.

For the most part, I’ve hit the mark. The content focuses on positive stories and not the controversial stuff – Blog is the place for that. Unfortunately for them, businesses don’t present themselves in advertising to the local consumers with any regularity failing to consider that the local consumer is the only one they are doing business with. But, that’s to be expected since most don’t advertise anywhere else and have no history of the value of advertising. And for the readers who take the time to read the long form stuff, they learn something new every month on a topic I feel they should be familiar with.

I’ve always prepared the paper with the classroom in mind. I’ve never approached teachers or administrators to incorporate the paper in their curriculum. Yet, if these papers were used in the classroom, students would gain a better perceptive of their hometown, learn a new topic or two that probably isn’t covered in as much depth in the classroom, and become better readers.

Just this week I had a conversation with a Swarthmore College journalism professor who, out of the blue, said he has his students read Chester Matters and do reports on what they read so they get an understanding of what’s going on in Chester. Hearing that gave me the warm & fuzzies knowing there’s an educator out there who finally gets it.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on this article entitled ‘7 Ways Newspapers Benefits Students.’

Newspapers might not be as glamorous as tablets or other gadgets, but they are still an invaluable resource to educators and students. The following are seven ways in which newspapers in the classroom can benefit students.

  1. Build vocabulary
  2. Improve Reading Skills
  3. Promote Critical Thinking
  4. Bring ideas and current events to life
  5. Build global awareness
  6. Promote social consciousness
  7. Make learning fun

Those 7-points have always been the purpose of my papers. I refused requests to dummy-down the content, or focus only on stories within the boundaries of Chester City, or to remove my opinions on thorny topics.

In a school district which struggles to put a book in every child’s hand, I have no problem printing as many papers as needed if you want to use Chester Matters as a learning tool.

I don’t see why you wouldn’t. Swarthmore College does.