Going into this year’s Media Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that whatever class I took, I would receive exception instruction. This year I took Editorial Leadership with Mitch Eden, advisor of Kirkwood High School’s media and journalism programs. I chose Editorial Leadership because I will be Editor-in-Chief of my school (Fort Zumwalt South High)’s newspaper, The Dog Dispatch this year. This will be only our third year as a publication, and I was really looking forward to learning about other editors and their programs.
On Sunday, we intruduced ourselves and choose our personal projects. It surprised be how advanced some high school media programs that were present in the workshop are! One girl, Laurel, is an executive producer on her high school t.v. station! My school only has a newspaper and I was amazed at the accomplishments of other students my age. Seeing all of the other students who had such large and successful media and journalism programs powered me to work hard and do as much as I could in three days.
I choose to create an editorial policy and staff manual. We haven’t had any structure the past two years, and Eden and I felt that to succeed, my staff would need structure and stability. Eden showed me an example that Aaron Manfull and John Bowen created. I started to create an editorial policy that would fit my staff. It was difficult, because everything was new to me. My advisor was not able to attend camp and I am the only returning member of lat year’s six-person staff, so I was working solo. I started working on staff positions, the editorial board, and administration and advisor involvement.
Staff positions were easy once I had a plan. We have an eight page paper, so I named a staff member for each page. News, Student Life, Features, Sports, and Entertainment editor positions and responsibilities were laid out. Each had the same basic format:
The News Editor is in charge of the news page of The Dog Dispatch. The editor edits and approves content before publication. The editor reserves the right to change, edit, or request more information on a story if needed. The News Editor converges with the Photo Editor and ensures that photographs and graphics featured on the news page are placed and ready to print on deadline day.
The Editor-in-Chief’s position was also described. I talked to Eden and other editors about their Chief’s responsibilities because we’d never had a real Editor-in-Chief; our editor graduated in December last year, and I absorbed most of her responsibilities. Still, I didn’t have a full grasp of everything an editor-in-chief does. Because we have such a small staff, as Editor-in-Chief I took most responsibility in the descriptions:
The Editor-in-Chief is the student in charge of The Dog Dispatch, and is only under the advisor. All stories will be edited and approved by the E.I.C. before publication. The E.I.C. is encouraged to write a 300 word “Thoughts From the Editor” each issue (look to journalist Brady Dennis for examples). The editor presents the newspaper to students and school staff, and has an open dialogue throughout the school year with FZS administration, including but not limiting to, Dr. Kevin Keltner, Mrs. Stephanie Goellner, Dr. Angie Hahn, Dr. Steve Hankins, and Mr. Brian Kelleher.
I haven’t met my staff yet, and I hope that we’ll have people who want to fill positions. I was worried about this as I wrote our policy and manual, but after the workshop the staff is getting together, so I hope to have positions set before school starts.
I also laid out plans for a photo editor, marketing manager, and graphic design manager. To me, the most important role this year will be our marketing manager. I plan to work with our Business teachers this summer and lay out a business plan. Before this workshop, I didn’t think of the newspaper as a business, and now I hope to involve a Business student in our staff meetings.
I also plan to talk to out Photography teacher and find a really good photographer that is willing to give up his/her time to help us this year. We’d love to have someone who takes beautiful pictures to enhance our paper, especially this year since we’re going to print in color for the first time.
My advisor told me that one girl joining this year is into graphic design, so I hope we’ll have a really modern and cool design this year.
Luckily, my administration fully supports our paper, The Dog Dispatch. Our principal only asks that we show him anything we think he wouldn’t like. The administration section was easily completed. First amendment rights and our vigilant fight against censorship were laid out and explained for staff members and administration.
When I detailed advisor involvement, I was a little hesitant. I didn’t want to overstep, because I’m not totally sure where my advisor wants to stand. If she’s willing to give most of the responsibility to me, I’d love it. I hope I don’t have to largely modify the policy when I meet with her to go over it this week.
As a group, we started to create a Google Doc of 101 Story Ideas.
By 8 p.m. Sunday, 1 hour and 15 minutes into the workshop, I already started to feel like the workshop would immensely help me.