The last hurrah: 35 teachers represent the last group of ASNE Kent State Fellows

Teachers from 22 states and the District of Columbia are part of the final year of the Reynolds High School Journalism Institute at Kent State University, a tradition that started in 2001. Although funders changed over the years, content became more digital and this year’s event hosts the teachers on campus for one week instead of the previous two, the basics haven’t changed all that much.

The 2015 group will still have a mix of theory and hands-on practice to help them launch new media outlets at their schools or reinvigorate ones already there. They will form maestro teams and get experience creating multimedia storytelling packages, something their students will be doing in the future.

In five weeks of online training before they arrive on campus, the teachers will have readings, activities and synchronous chat sessions between May 19 and June 19. These will give them a solid foundation of law and ethics, news values, advising approaches and more. They will also get to know each other some before they arrive in Kent July 12.

“This will help them jump-start their learning and mean they can dive right into their projects,” institute director Candace Perkins Bowen said.

Teaching the group along with Bowen are lead instructors John Bowen, H.L.Hall and Susan Hathaway Tantillo. They’ll be joined with newsroom and classroom pros like Susan Kirkman Zake, Bruce Zake and David Foster, who will help with the video and audio the teams will create. The Institute is administered by the American Society of News Editors through its Youth Journalism Initiative and funded with a generous grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.

ASNE focuses on leadership development and journalism-related issues. Founded in 1922 as a nonprofit professional organization, ASNE promotes fair, principled journalism, defends and protects First Amendment rights, and fights for freedom of information and open government. Leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion in coverage and the journalism work force, youth journalism and the sharing of ideas are also key ASNE initiatives. ASNE’s Youth Journalism Initiative, launched in 2000, provides journalism-related training and resources for teachers and students across the curriculum. Its goal is for every student to learn why news matters and acquire the skills needed to succeed as 21st Century citizens.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it is named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $150 million to journalism initiatives nationally.

Meet the 2014 Fellows

Emily Allred

Emily Allred

Emily Allred teaches Language Arts 9, Language Arts 10 and journalism at Buckeye High School in Medina, Ohio. Emily serves as adviser for the school newspaper, The Buckeye Buzz, the dance team and Student Council. Before teaching, Emily worked in advertising and public relations. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bowling Green State University and her teaching license from Notre Dame College. Emily enjoys dance, theatre, Cleveland sports and spending time with her husband, two rescue pups, family and friends.

Diana Aqra

Diana Aqra

Diana Aqra has been a journalist since 2007 and a media educator since 2012. Diana focuses on teaching young people about global issues and how to express facts, views and opinions through multi-media.She began a program and blog called “Global Colorado News” with several college and high school students in 2011 to cover international events and stories happening within the state of Colorado.

Irene Arholekas

Irene Arholekas

 

Irene Arholekas is a high school English teacher, freelance journalist, editor and blogger. Irene teaches in a New York City transfer high school in the diverse neighborhood of Flushing, Queens, and she serves as an adjunct for the City University of New York and SUNY Nassau Community College. She will be spearheading a new digital publication class thanks to a grant from NYC councilman John Liu’s office in the fall. Irene runs the only site dedicated to the needs, interests and accomplishments of women of the Hellenic Diaspora around the world at www.greekamericangirl.com. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri.

Andrea Armstrong

Andrea Armstrong

Andrea Armstrong is in her 12th year of teaching English at West Salem High School in West Salem, Wis. For the last three years Andrea has been advising West Salem’s school newspaper, The Panther Prowler, and yearbook, The Neshonoc. Andrea also teaches English classes at the 11th– and 12th-grade levels. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, she enjoys living in the La Crosse area.

 

Cecile Avallone Hall

Cecile Avallone Hall

Cecile Avallone Hall is a relatively new teacher who never taught Journalism until this year. A graduate of UCLA, Cecile previously worked as a radio disc jockey and feature film story analyst. Cecile’s primary goal as a high school teacher is to inspire her students to develop a love of reading, which in turn might inspire a love of learning, simply for the joy of becoming educated. She currently teaches Honors English 9 and journalism, and the print-format paper at her school is the Paw Print. Cecile loves her two sons, her two dogs, traveling, reading, crosswords and photography.

Josh Bronson

Josh Bronson

Josh Bronson just completed his first year of teaching at Galena High School in Reno, Nev., where he taught English 3-4, English 5-6 and journalism. Josh advised the school newspaper, Grizz Tracks, and will be taking over the yearbook, Ursae Majoris, next year. He received his bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in journalism from Corban University in 2006 and then received his teaching credentials from Sierra Nevada College in 2013. Josh is currently finishing his master’s degree in teaching at Sierra Nevada College. Before teaching, Josh was a sports writer and editor in Oregon and Nevada.

Natalie Calderon

Natalie Calderon

Natalie Calderon has been a teacher at Homestead High School for five years and currently teaches literature & writing, AVID and journalism. Natalie also serves as the Class of 2016 adviser, Speech & Debate Club adviser and adviser of the Epitaph, Homestead’s student-run newspaper. After graduating in 2002 from Santa Clara University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Natalie worked for six years as an editor, production manager and campaign manager before heading to graduate school at Stanford for her teaching credential and Master of Arts in education. Natalie’s weekend favorites include hiking, reading, photography and relaxing someplace tropical.

Chelsey Cox

Chelsey Cox

Chelsey Cox is a recent graduate of the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus in newswriting. In addition, Chelsey minored in social science and received her teacher certification in journalism 8-12. She just completed her student teaching at Denton High School, where she worked alongside her mentor in teaching journalism and photojournalism. Chelsey also helped with the school yearbook, The Bronco, and newspaper, The Horseshoe. She loves collecting pencils whenever she travels and is a huge baseball fan – Go Texas Rangers!

Heather Edmunds Reed

Heather Edmunds Reed

Heather Edmunds Reed has been the newspaper adviser at Roosevelt High School (RHS) for one year and has loved every minute of it. “The Nationalist” is RHS’s student news magazine and is published seven times a year. In addition to advising, Heather teaches journalism and English I. Heather went to Lawrence University for her Bachelor of Arts in government and history and received her Master of Arts in secondary education from Johns Hopkins University. When not teaching and advising, Heather loves spending time with her husband, two little sons and their Wheaten Terrier, Olive. She also enjoys reading, quilting, cooking and attempting to garden.

Nicole Gingrich

Nicole Gingrich

Nicole Gingrich is a 9th-12th grade teacher located in Maryland. She currently teaches 12th-grade English, journalism and Newspaper and Media Productions. Nicole publishes a quarterly newspaper, Paw Prints, and produces a daily television show, WCHS. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, secondary education and communications-journalism and a Master of Arts in English. Nicole is currently working on obtaining a Reading Specialist certificate, and her hobbies include traveling, reading and photography.

Candice Gravitt

Candice Gravitt

Candice Gravitt teaches broadcast journalism at Faith Lutheran in Las Vegas, Nev. Gravitt holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and worked for 10 years for ABC and CBS News. She worked as a producer of several nightly segments, including “Inside Health” and “Crime Fighters.” She also is the recipient of an Emmy award for Point of View Vegas, the Las Vegas Sun‘s talk show, and an Associated Press award for producing “Inside Health.” Teaching is her newfound passion. You can see her students’ work at www.crusaderchronicle.com

Kit Harris

Kit Harris

Kit Harris has been teaching for 19 years, 15 of those at his current high school in Baldwin City, Kan., where he teaches the following courses: Journalism-Yearbook, Digital Media Newspaper and Introduction to Journalism, as well as sophomore English. He is the adviser for the school yearbook, the Pioneer, magazine, The Bulldog Spotlight, and the online newspaper and social media pages, The Bulldog Bulletin Online. Kit also coaches the wrestling team for both the junior high school and high school. Kit has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Baker University. He enjoys spending time with his family and running.

Scott Harrison

Scott Harrison

Scott Harrison earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and Master of Arts in teaching from Memphis State University. He, his wife of 20 years and their four children are all active participants in Scouting. Scott spends his days taking photos, collecting Scout memorabilia and searching for the perfect word. He current teaches pre-Advanced Placement English 10 and journalism and advises the staff of his school’s newspaper, The Scroll, which operates as a student-led team, much the way a Scout troop is structured.

Carl Hauck

Carl Hauck

Carl Hauck is a sixth-year English teacher at Grayslake Central High School in Northern Illinois. He will be teaching journalism for the first time this coming school year. Carl majored in English and minored in secondary education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in literature at Northeastern Illinois University. When he’s not teaching, Carl enjoys writing poetry, short stories and music; he is both a solo musician (carlhauck.com) and a member of the Chicago-based indie rock band Sunjacket (sunjacket.net).

Eric Helle

Eric Helle

Eric Helle was raised in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., and he returned to the city of his birth to attend San Diego State University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in creative writing and then his single subject teaching credential. After spending the first seven years of his professional career at Pioneer High School in Whittier, he returned to Bonita Vista High School, the school where he did his student teaching, when he was offered the senior IB English position. Seventeen years later, Eric decided to head The Crusader, the Bonita Vista school newspaper.

Amelia Lackey

Amelia Lackey

Amelia Lackey currently teaches sophomore English and Journalism I at Durant High School in Plant City, Fla. Amelia also serves as the newspaper sponsor for The PawPrint. She attended the University of South Florida after graduating from Durant High School where she was the editor-in-chief of the yearbook. She graduated from USF with a degree in secondary English education. In her free time she enjoys reading, writing and spending time with her family and friends.

Christee Lemons

Christee Lemons

Christee Lemons is currently an English teacher at Vista del Lago High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. Before entering the teaching profession, Christee majored in communications with an emphasis in print journalism at Cal State Fullerton. She interned at a local paper before being offered a full-time reporting job at another paper. While covering education, Christee realized she wanted to teach. She soon left to pursue her credential and master’s degree. She has taught 7th-, 9th-, and 11th-grade English. This past school year she was offered the opportunity to teach journalism, and she quickly took it.

Lisa Martin

Lisa Martin

Lisa Martin obtained her Bachelor of Arts in English from Hood College in Frederick, Md., and her Master of Arts in TESOL/bilingual from Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. Lisa currently teaches Spanish at an all-girls international Catholic boarding high school in Baltic, Conn. There, she is the adviser for the student-run school newspaper, The Guardian.

 

Deborah McGhee

Deborah McGhee

Deborah McGhee teaches environmental science, earth science, physical science and desktop publishing. Deborah has 15 students in a combined class of sophomores, juniors and seniors. She has 18 graduate hours in technology and has been a yearbook advisor for about 15 years. Deborah has worked as a science teacher, computer teacher, and technology director during her 25 years of teaching. She has also received two grants from the Oklahoma Scholastic Media Initiative to fund her print and online newspaper.

Jacqueline Pinchot

Jacqueline Pinchot

Jacqueline Pinchot is an English teacher and communications department chairperson at Riverside High School in Ellwood City, Pa. She earned her Bachelor of Science in secondary education/English and her Master of Education in teaching and curriculum from Penn State University. She has taught at both the middle school and high school levels and currently teaches English 10, Honors English 11 and AP literature courses. Jackie also taught journalism and advised the student newspaper in her previous school district and will return to teaching journalism at Riverside next year. Jackie enjoys reading, crafts and spending time with her husband and two children.

Dr. Shannon Rennaker

Dr. Shannon Rennaker

Dr. Shannon Rennaker is the adviser of the Griffin Rites newsmagazine at Winnetonka High School in the North Kansas City School District. Shannon has been in education for 15 years, and her education career includes having been an elementary special education paraprofessional and high school teacher for English, yearbook and theater. Shannon started in education teaching G.E.D. classes in the Missouri Department of Corrections and she has been an elementary principal and a district curriculum coordinator. She was the editor-in-chief of her college newspaper and is very pleased to return to the classroom as a journalism teacher.

Kyle J. Ruder

Kyle J. Ruder

Kyle J. Ruder will be a first-year English teacher this fall at New Miami High School in Butler County, Ohio. He will be teaching journalism, speech and English 11/12, and he is currently an educational aide for a sophomore with developmental disabilities. Kyle graduated from Miami University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications. In 2003, Kyle started Mooseboy Productions, a freelance video production business. In 2007, he earned his Master of Arts in Teaching, also from Miami University. Kyle has a passion for music and a love of film.

Joel Sanders

Joel Sanders

Joel Sanders currently teaches English 9, English Lab, newspaper and yearbook. The newspaper program at EHS is called The Hoofbeat and the yearbook program is called El Corral. Joel graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in English Education and a journalism cognate. Joel is a sports enthusiast, as he enjoys watching and playing them. In particular, basketball is his favorite sport, as he hails from Indiana. He is also a reality TV nut, enjoying shows such as Big Brother and The Amazing Race. Most importantly, he enjoys making a difference in high school journalism.

Jennifer Slama

Jennifer Slama

Jennifer Slama has lived in the St. Louis area her entire life. She began her career in education teaching English, journalism, yearbook and newspaper at Wentzville Holt High School in 2010 after receiving a secondary English teaching certification and a degree in English from the University of Missouri- St. Louis. Later, Jennifer obtained a Missouri journalism teaching certificate. In August 2013, she began teaching at Festus High School where she teaches yearbook and English. Jennifer is developing a broadcast journalism program at Festus High which will begin in fall of 2014.

Kelli M. Smith

Kelli M. Smith

Kelli M. Smith received her Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in creative writing from Eastern Illinois University and her Master of Arts in teaching from Concordia University Chicago. Although she presently works as a substitute teacher because of budget cuts, Kelli hopes to have her own classroom in the near future. She briefly taught journalism and English/language arts classes to all levels of students, ranging from grades 6-12. She also enjoys writing and reading along with the aspiration of being published.

Kristin Taylor

Kristin Taylor

Kristin Taylor is a National Board Certified English teacher with 17 years of teaching experience. Kristin teaches English and journalism at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, where she served as department chair from 2011-2014. She began advising the school newspaper, the Oracle, in 2012. Originally a small club putting out a paper only twice a year, Kristin developed and implemented a new journalism course and oversaw the Oracle’s transformation to a fully digital news site. Kristin earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Connecticut and her Master of Arts in teaching from Sacred Heart University.

Kady Vanderhoof

Kady Vanderhoof

Kady Vanderhoof is a first-year teacher from Auburn, Wash. Kady graduated from Washington State University in the fall of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education. Following graduation, Kady worked overseas on military bases in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and Okinawa, Japan, as a youth program director for children of U.S. military personnel. In the summer of 2013, she was hired at Auburn Mountainview High School as a language arts teacher. Currently, she teaches 9th– and 10th-grade language arts, language arts intervention and advises the student newspaper, inView.

Anne Weisgerber

Anne Weisgerber

The sole journalism instructor and student newspaper adviser at Summit Senior High School in New Jersey, Anne Weisgerber also teaches three sections of AP English Language. Anne is an award-winning features writer and experienced freelancer. She is looking to jumpstart her program and to refresh her own love of the reporting fundamentals. Anne holds both a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Business Administration in marketing. She and admires art, poetry and literary non-fiction and resides in Warren Township, N.J., with her husband Paul, three teenaged sons and two adorable goats, Snapdragon and Socrates.

Emily Willis

Emily Willis

Emily Willis earned her Bachelor of Arts in English at Portland State University and a Master of Arts in teaching at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. Although Emily’s education is primarily in English Literature education, she was excited to stumble into the world of journalism education when she was asked to replace a former colleague for the 2013-14 school year. Emily currently works at Tigard High School outside of Portland, where she teaches English and journalism. She also advises advanced publications students through the creation of an online newspaper, The Paw; a print newspaper, The Print; and the school yearbook, The Tiger.

Susan Willoughby-Crawford

Susan Willoughby-Crawford

Susan Willoughby-Crawford transitioned to education after serving as a journalist. She started her career at WMUB-FM in Oxford, Ohio, and was an anchor/reporter at WFND-TV in Findlay, Ohio. She did freelance reporting primarily for ABC affiliate WCTI-TV in New Bern, N.C., and was a columnist and feature reporter for The Sun Journal in New Bern and the Cox News Service. Susan is the English department chair at Middletown (Ohio) High School and serves on many building and district committees. She partners with businesses to provide opportunities for career exploration and coordinates student interns for the local newspaper and cable TV outlet.

Casandra Workman

Casandra Workman

Casandra Workman, CJE, has taught for 13 years, been a scholastic journalism adviser for 11 years and currently advises the Odyssey Yearbook at Centennial High School, where she started and built a graphic design program. She is the co-president of the Southern Nevada Society of Journalists (SNSJ), which she helped establish in May 2011. In 2009, she attended the Google Teacher Academy in Australia and became a Google Certified Instructor. In her free time, she spends time with her two cats and dog and likes traveling to interesting places, especially to capture sunsets and sunrises with her camera.

Jerred Zegelis

Jerred Zegelis

After receiving his degree in language arts at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Jerred Zegelis became the print journalism adviser at Westside High School in Omaha, Neb. He advises the school newspaper, Lance; magazine, Craze; and yearbook, Shield, while also teaching beginning courses in journalism and photography. He is a photographer with his wife, specializing in weddings and portraiture. Late at night you might find him with a headset on, playing video games with his friends online.

Considering timeliness as a news value for young journalists

Last year, I attended a wonderful VAJTA adviser’s retreat. The inextinguishable Aaron Manfull was our guest speaker and challenged us all to consider the value of Snapchat as a tool for our student journalists. He shared with us some of the things his staff was using it for and to demonstrate its authority and presence among traditionalists, showed us the Washington Posts’ Snapchat feed (to which I don’t even know how to provide a link in this blog format).

It was an exciting discussion about new media and new avenues for storytelling in journalism.

Last week, I had coffee with a fellow former-journalist-turned-educator and we both discussed how we deal with the daily newspaper that still lands on our doorstep every morning. Both of us have the same routine: The papers pile up throughout the week and, if we have time, we read the longer pieces on the weekend. We keep up with the news of the world through Twitter, NPR news bulletins, Google news feeds…

And this week, for this ASNE Summer Institute, I’m considering which news values are essential for our students and I can’t help but come back to these two anecdotes and question whether timeliness is of any value for a student-produced newspaper (or site).

Social media (such as Snapchat) do timeliness really well. Traditional media (such as the print version of Washington Post) do not.

I read one of my colleagues earlier blog posts about the ever shifting world of journalism and concerns about our roles as advisers of student media. This is very real and the issues of teaching “traditional” journalistic values is a very real challenge.

But social media is still MEDIA, right? So I believe my challenge as an adviser is to look carefully and critically at my student publication and consider what it can do and do well and to assign and order those news values accordingly. If timeliness is to be of any value, traditional media cannot be its vehicle.

An optimistically narcissistic first blog post

By Jason Wawrzeniak

I’d bet many professionals believe their jobs are part of a rapidly changing landscape or are evolving for the 21st Century.  And possibly I’m just narcissistic, but as a teacher as well as school journalism adviser I feel my roles are changing as much as anyone’s — which is exciting, as I see so much overlap among those two in particular.

With such an incredible wealth of information, ideas, and opinions immediately available at students’ fingertips (and able to be offered by those same fingers, as well), both fields are raising great questions about roles.  Classrooms are being flipped, rows are becoming pods, and texts are morphing into devices.

But while I’m growing more confident in my role as English teacher, I continue to feel more instability as journalism adviser — even though I probably spend as much time reflecting on my one Journalism class strategies as I do my five others combined.  With my Journalism course I feel as if I’m juggling 10 balls in the air as opposed to two or three.  How to balance new media with traditional approaches (like getting kids away from a computer screen to talk to real human beings).  How to encourage and inspire a student population whose attention seems more and more diverted and diluted.

This is one of the primary reasons I applied to be part of such a special opportunity as the Reynolds Institute presents (and why I’m so grateful for the opportunity).

It is also why I’ve already — in only the ten days I’ve been participating — felt so gratified to be a part of such an opportunity.  Already I’ve seen voices echoing the challenges I’ve experienced.  Already I’ve flagged at least a dozen ideas to incorporate during next school year from the two chats and handful of selections I’ve been exposed to.

And at the very least, I can add “Blogger” to my resume.

Looking forward to the next month, and beyond!

 

Preparing for the great unknown

At the beginning of the school year, I got one of the best text messages I’ve ever received—no small feat, considering I have a friend who regularly sends pictures of puppies in onesies.

The message was from a student who’d just graduated a few months before. As I’d sent her out into the world after three years in my broadcast and print journalism classes, I’d wondered, as I always do, if I’d really prepared her for the future. One curmudgeonly colleague or another pops his or her head in my room a couple times a year to tell me that journalism is dead, that they’ve recently heard from a very reliable source that the future is bleak, there will be no jobs for journalists, there will be no more newspapers. It’s funny how I heard the same thing when I graduated from high school as news editor of our school newspaper, but maybe not the “haha” kind of funny, as I heeded the naysayers’ advice and dropped the pursuit of journalism completely. (Because I thought a degree in international studies and English would be more lucrative?)

The people who told me there was no future in journalism nearly a decade and a half ago are the same ones still predicting its demise—it’s not that there’s no future, it’s that they can’t envision what that future looks like. Even in 2001, no one could really see what this Internet thing would come to mean for journalism, no one could imagine the rapid evolution of Twitter and citizen journalism. My own high school journalism adviser certainly didn’t see what was coming, but he did his best to prepare us for it by teaching us how to interview, how to write, how to create and connect with our audience. This text message reminded me that equipping students with the basics will help them feel prepared for the real world, and it is this confidence that will enable them to tackle anything the future holds.

Lindsay Benedict - message from student

Now that the age of Twitter is upon us, it’s still hard to see where journalism will go next, but one thing is clear—providing students with a solid base of skills, ethics and style will prepare them to communicate with the world through any form of media. Even as we rush to understand and adapt to new technology, the foundations of journalism will remain necessary tools for all future generations of journalists.

Riding the Wave of a Former Journalist Turned Adviser

By Stephanie Weiss

I once was part of the journalist pool.

After attending St. Bonaventure University, I graduated in 1999 with a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications. While I was there I focused on photojournalism and spent many sleepless nights in the darkroom developing film and printing photographs. I also wrote and edited for the school paper, had a radio show, and was PR director for the radio station. I interned as a features reporter for my hometown newspaper during that time and shortly after graduation I landed a job that came with the title of Editor-in-chief of a technology trade publication.

Anyone familiar with trade publications knows that it isn’t really journalism. It is advertising disguised as journalism. I quickly felt that I was the typical small fish in a big pool of nonsense and that I was not contributing to the world the way my idealistic 24-year-old self envisioned. I was not a journalist. I was simply regurgitating what others told me and I felt that anyone who read my stories already knew what I was telling them.

So, I used my undergraduate degree to became a teacher — a teacher with the ultimate goal of becoming the adviser of a high school student newspaper or yearbook. I discovered through the certification process, that I really enjoyed helping others write. I realized that I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed writing myself.

Thankfully after my certification program, I quickly landed a job as a 9th grade English teacher in a suburban school district in my hometown.

At the time, the journalism program was strong when it came to video/TV, but the adviser of the newspaper was ill and headed toward retirement. So, I taught Romeo & Juliet and The Odyssey and patiently waited for my shot at advising the newspaper.

That chance came in 2011 when I split the classes with another new adviser. She wanted to still publish in print, but I saw the need to go online and so we split the program into two publications. It worked well.

And as it is when you do things well, people decide you can do more.

So, I was asked by my principal if I would also like to try my hand at the communication department classes which involved video, broadcast, film, and the AM announcement homeroom. (Please note from the above paragraph of my experience, that video was nowhere in my repertoire of skills.) I accepted the challenge and jumped in with both feet last year, but I quickly felt like I misjudged the depth of such a jump. I did what I could and managed to grow student enrollment and gained the support of the administration to make curriculum changes to the point that they are renovating the outdated TV studio this summer!

This might sound like any journalism adviser’s dream come true, but I am running out of energy as I continue to tread water in the deep end of this pool full of expectations. A pool I have basically filled myself.

I honestly feel like there are days I might drown, but there are such fantastically talented students who keep me afloat.

My job as an adviser happened so fast, and I figured that my past degree and knowledge of the journalism world would be enough to help me steer a course, but I quickly learned that being the only captain of a department that interacts with so many other parts of the community can be like surfing a really big wave!

But did I mention that I have nightmares about waves? Gigantic tsunami-sized waves come toward me in my dreams and I have to outrun them or I must protect others from them or I find myself underneath a mile-high wall of water scared out of my mind. So there I was, scared I was in over my head.

Then, one day a wonderfully supportive colleague sent me a flyer for the Reynolds Institute, and in it, I saw a lighthouse that could steer me safely into a comfortable port where I could be proud of my crew and take on the supplies we needed for many more voyages. That is what I am looking for here.

Since it’s been 16 years since I called myself a journalist and only 4 years since I have worn the title of adviser, I am so looking forward to gaining the tools I need to do this job well. I hope the rest of the captains out there will share with me all their tactical charts and throw me a few life vests that I can take back with me for the fall.

I can’t wait to feel again what it is like to be a part of the journalist pool so that I can prepare my students to swim in this ever-changing sea of mass media. I want to do more than just keep my head above water. I have to for the sake of my sanity, my students, my school, and my community. I can’t wait to get started!

It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll (or Journalism) to me.

As a consumer and occasional producer of journalism, I don’t find myself getting too bogged down with distinctions between print, digital and/or social media where journalism is involved.  I consume them all–probably more than I should and each plays a role in enhancing my life and eating away at my productivity.

I still love a print paper, especially when I have time to luxuriate  over a long breakfast or a bottomless mug of coffee on my porch.  (I bought  the porch 16 years ago.  The house came with it).  At the same time, when I wake up in the morning, the first place I go is my phone or tablet to check the sports pages of the Detroit papers or Pitchfork for the latest and greatest in hipster-approved album reviews.  Get me watching a ballgame or some appointment TV and I’m scrolling my Twitter feed for extras from beat writers and pop culture critics. Now that I can get any podcast delivered straight to my phone, I rarely listen to music in the car.  That’s NPR time.   Regardless of format,  it’s all essential news to me, at least it seems like it at the moment.

When things first started going digital, part of me felt some of the enjoyment was going out of the news experience for me.  I’m the classic “grazer”.  I love taking an hour  or two and bouncing through a newspaper, stopping wherever a headline catches my attention.   In my early days as a digital consumer, I was just going straight to the “good stuff”–and not finding those  serendipitous little side paths that made newspapers so much fun.  It was sort of like my early days with an iPod.  No longer did I find myself developing relationships with albums, eventually growing to appreciate even the less immediate tracks.  It was all hits, all the time which was a lot of fun if a somewhat less rich experience.  I was getting more of what I wanted but also finding less that I didn’t know I wanted in the first place.

Then along came Twitter.  Now I never know what might pop up on my feed, especially given that I follow a lot of curious sports and music journalists who might post a link to just about anything  and give me the chance to follow.  Problem solved.

The funny thing is, when it comes to The Bucs’ Blade, the student media outlet I advise, I don’t feel like my students agree yet.  You’d think, as a bunch of fast-clicking digital natives, they’d love the new stuff, but I’m finding it hard to get them as enthused as I’d like.

Part of that is probably just a little instant karma biting me in the butt.  I haven’t really had to struggle with many  of the issues my colleagues around the state and nation have had to face.  When I started advising back in 2000, I inherited a “legacy” paper–one that was  deeply ingrained in the school’s culture and where each issue was welcomed warmly by students, staff, administration and the community. Since the paper had standing with the student body, there were no issues with recruiting aside from occasionally having to turn away a kid or two for lack of space.  There were no issues with funding or even a whiff of censorship. About the worst it got was the occasional email or office meeting with a principal who voiced a mild objection to a more sensitive story or, perhaps the phone call from an administrator or parent who didn’t like certain content they saw in a “school paper.” I had it easy. It wasn’t until I was elected to the board of our state organization or started paying attention to the JEA ListServ that I realized everybody didn’t have it the same way.

So now this digital thing is sort of my first big road bump.  The audience is changing.  Although our print paper is still earning strong critiques and the kids love it, we’re seeing more unclaimed copies.  It’s harder to generate revenue.  Budgets are shrinking and, even more importantly, the realities of what I need to teach kids to do before I send them off to college is changing.  I have to admit, I’m a little lost.

I love digital and I value it.  But kids still think of the web as the place for stuff that wasn’t either good enough or important enough for the print paper.  I think the storytelling is the same regardless of platform, but I struggle with how to handle the immediacy of the web In our old linear print production schedule, there was always a week or two or more to knock out a story (or 10-15 hours of class time if you prefer).  Finding ways to get kids to complete and edit stories in a day or two means that initial news coverage tends to be shorter and less in depth, which probably contributes to why kids  see it as lesser.

There’s also the matter of technology–we’re still set up like a state of the art 2003 newsroom and from software to hardware we’re a little short on the cutting edge stuff which probably curtails the excitement a bit.

Either way, the challenge for me is to figure out how to help  my kids figure out  how it all fits in with the the realities of the  high school world. Should be fun.

Architecture and the journalism landscape

By Leslie Dennis

The first time I went to the Poynter Institute in January 2009, I was amazed, shocked. The Poynter building was not at all what I expected.  I was envisioning some multiple-floor, mirrored-exterior building that competed with other parts of the skyline and sat along the shore.

But as I walked into the building, it was nothing I expected. At first, from the outside, it was nondescript, as if it was trying to remove itself from the rest of the architecture of St. Petersburg, Florida.  The semi-ranch style building seemed so understated compared to the other buildings in St. Pete and the surrounding Tampa area.

The simple interior design has splashes of modern art.  Glass cubes with colored streaks flashing through have quotes about journalism engraved in them.  Flat screen TVs are mounted on the paneled walls and laptop computers sit on the thick wooden desks. Large windows throughout allow sunlight into the common area.  The reflecting pools and artfully overgrown arbors outside make you feel secluded from the minimal traffic of the area.

I was in love and confused all at the same time.  I was not sure how I felt about an organization known for educating professional and scholastic journalists on the ever-evolving world of media being encased in a 1950s-style building.  It was a bit disorienting.

But I realized that while journalism is always changing and moving toward the future, there is still that traditional base of good writing, reporting and designing.  With blogs, tweets, podcasts, websites, RSS feeds, and multimedia storytelling, journalists still need the knowledge of basic journalism principles, the history of the profession, and the information on ethical decision-making and policies.

Even as I write this, though, I have questions about whether this seamless compromise exists in education standards, what type of programming and information to provide my organizations’ memberships and how to maintain a balance of traditional principles and innovative technologies. In S.C., the education system focuses standards more on CATE programs and the skills of media – how to operate the tech – than the content creation of the programs and publications. In my mind, though, those ideas – skills and content – should be married together to produce a more developed program.

One of my missions in my first year as a SPA director is to find out what advisers and students of scholastic journalism want and need out of SPAs and enhancing the content we already offer – integrating the basic principles of storytelling and journalism into new technologies and platforms. I want to create an organizational architecture that both educates about journalism history and promotes future avenues and innovations in the field. In order to do that, however, I have to learn and keep learning about these ideas myself. Education never stops, especially your own.

Stressing the Positive?

Maybe I’m too much of a purist, but looking through the possible roles in our assignment this week, I was struck by how strongly I feel that being “responsible for stressing the positive” should not be part of any journalism publication or education. I’m sure this has something to do with my journalism degree and years spent as a newspaper reporter, but it just seems to me that the second a journalist begins making decisions in any way based on whether it will make someone look good or look bad, all objectivity is out the window. You are now in public relations. Maybe that’s just me, though?  I wasn’t able to take part in the chats this week, so I don’t know how those discussions went, but I do find that I am curious about the degree to which others feel differently.

It’s certainly not that I don’t think news publications should do stories that are “positive” or that my students don’t do them. It’s just I do feel strongly that “showing a positive about the school” is not something that should be factored into whether a story is newsworthy and thus not something I would want to hear my students discussing when deciding what to cover (on a related note, I also wouldn’t want to hear them discussing a desire to do a story because it would make the school look bad). In their last issue of the year, the students did a large spread featuring students and student groups who have won state or national awards. It’s the kind of thing that definitely helps “readers see the positive side of the school year and its events.” However, I would never want that to be the GOAL of such coverage. The goal, when the student began compiling this spread, was to let readers know about some cool things that their peers have done lately that they probably hadn’t heard about, yet. They were reporting the news, and the news, in this case, ended up looking positive. That’s cool. In the same issue they published a spread featuring students who have suffered concussions and who argue that other students (and even teachers and the school, in general) do not seem to understand how much their concussions actually impacted them and should be doing more to help them out. This was also meant to highlight experiences of students that other students might not have heard about or completely understood before. Similar goal, but the end result is not nearly as “positive” as the awards story. Stories may make the school look “good” or “bad” or anything in between, but I do think the goals of the publication should have nothing to do with that. These sorts of considerations are sometimes worth discussing as part of an ethical debate or in trying to anticipate what reaction to a piece might be, but a news publication should not be responsible for overtly trying to shape how the public views an institution.

It could be that part of my reservation to want my students to discuss positivity in any way in their publishing decisions results from confrontations I have had with my school district in the past and/or with the big push the district has begun implementing this year to have staff spend more effort “selling” the school with positives. We even had a teacher staff meeting where we were instructed to talk about how good our school is while out in the community (with strangers in line at the grocery store, for example). Because of new private-school voucher systems in our area, students increasingly can attend any school they want, and so our district is trying to beef up its image in an attempt to avoid decreasing enrollment. I completely understand the fear, but I feel quite strongly that a journalist at a news publication must focus on honesty, objectivity, and transparency and that focusing even a tiny bit on “selling” anything completely kills these. Maybe I’m a bit extreme?

On a “positive” note related to this, my district (despite having some complaints about similar stories in the past) had nothing but positive things to say about a story on race relations at our school that one of my students reported and published in the local, professional paper for the entire community to read. The story even came up at a school board meeting and was praised for being an example of the professional work our students can produce. My thoughts, exactly! Honestly, I was scared (even though I had given heads-up that the story was coming) that the district would focus comments on how they story didn’t inherently make the school look good and, in some instances, even featured anecdotes and facts that could certainly be construed as “negative.” However, what I think almost everyone who read it actually thought was something along the lines of “hmm, this is interesting, and wow, a high school student did this?” If one of our stated or considered goals, however, was in any way to try to reflect positives about the school, I’m not sure a story such as that one would have even been attempted.

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