Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Scholarship Opportunity

The deadline for submitting names for the NSPA Journalism Honor Roll is Feb. 17. Students must have earned a 3.75 cumulative GPA, have been on a NSPA member staff for at least one year and be endorsed by the adviser as having made strong contributions to journalism.

Graduating seniors on the Honor Roll may apply for an Honor Roll Scholarship. All students on the Honor Roll will be included in the next volume of Best of the High School Press and will receive an award certificate.

The application is available at the Form Central section of our Web site: This is not a postmark deadline. Forms must be received by Feb. 17.

The Wikoff Scholarship for Editorial Leadership applications are also due Feb. 17. Entrants must be a senior on the staff of an NSPA member newspaper with a minimum 3.5 grade point average and must also submit three published editorials, a transcript and a brief letter of recommendation from the paper's adviser.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'll meet you under the arch

For three days in St. Louis we focused on yearbook.  One week after I participated in a Taylor Publishing seminar in Santa Fe, New Mexico my students had their own revival.  Their renewed passion for yearbook needed a voice, so on a cold and rainy Friday night, after an intense editorial board meeting, I began a modest corner of the web where their experience and our progress from it would be documented.       

The editor makes her mark

There were dozens of classes so I will only highlight a few I think you'll enjoy...

The first class of the day was at 9 a.m. and titled "Creating Effective Editorial Policies," but little did Panton, Haley, Arielle, and I know, this was a class about everything but yearbook led by an instructor who required us to write everything she said down.

At 11 a.m. I went to a class called "Managing Your Staff's Colors" with Lauren K. This class was interactive and went by too quickly. We first took a personality test which then classified us as a color based on a point system (more on a different type of point system to come). Gold described someone who was organized, a leader and a listmaker; Blue was for a highly sensitive listener who disliked criticism; Green an analyzer who is sarcastic and doubtful; Orange was a negotiator who procrastinated and was very competitive.

The BEST and MOST INTERESTING class I attended was hosted by the infamous Lori Oglesbee. I quoted her so many times on my paper...
"Change the layout not the pictures"
"The spread about the yearbook staff is always detailed...every spread should be that detailed"
"If the quote sounds highly intelligent, a teenager didn't say it"
She talked about everything from copy to layout to photography and everything she mentioned was something that would (and will) help someone on staff. She also discussed revising copy and although we will pass out the handout, I'll briefly summarize the steps here:
Step 1:Run a word count
Step 2:Read aloud and mark places where you stumble
Step 3:Look for summarized or omplied dialogue
Step 4:Cirlce all adverbs
Step 5:Underline all verb phrases and list all verbs on a sheet of paper
Step 6:Spell/grammar check with word
Step 7:Leave alone for 24 hours.

Jessica Kramer

Not an obscure reference

Storytelling in Yearbooks
Stories are about people not things, so tell their whole story.
Yearbooks are for now and later, so make sure that you have good copy.
No matter where you are or what you are doing, make sure that you have your yearbook hat on at all times when in your school environment.
Observe and experience everything around you and take down observational notes.

The Perfect Question
Get all the information you need so if you get kicked out, you have enough information to write the story.
Before you interview, it is important to do before hand research and to be prepared at all times.
When interviewing, take notes of the people and how they act.
When you have time to interview, start the questions out easy and then work to the harder questions.
It is okay to go off script but make sure that you keep pulling back to the original question and ask it again and again.
Try to avoid yes and no questions.
Unless they give you something better, stay on topic.
Stay calm.
Be professional and polite.
When they ask you to keep this information “off the record” do not quote them or link them to part of the question
Instead, ask them to bring you to another person to confirm the information.
At times, it is good to throw in non-threatening questions. People get scared when we write, so do not make it too obvious.
Multitask; talk, write and remember.
In summary, put them in a position to talk and provide you will all the necessary information.

Photo Phabulous
Composition is the arrangement of elements in the frame of your path.
Rule of thirds: do not have a person in the center of a photo.
Fill the frame: get close to your subject.
Draw attention to the action, not distracting backgrounds.
Not every picture has to be of people.
Framing: use natural frames to bring emphasis to the photo’s subject.
Do not be afraid to be afraid to move around!
Unique angles: get on the roof, NO eye level, go above and below.
Repetition: elements in the frame that repeat, the same movement, lines that move readers to the subject.
Be patient and wait for the right movement.
Do not watch with your eyes, watch with the camera’s view finder.
Stay till the END of all activities!
Try to include one person doing something, two to three people doing something together, a wide shot of an important action or item, and a mix of verticals and horizontals.
Tell the WHOLE story; inside and outside.
Cropping is the removing of portions of a photo or changing its shape in order to create a more effective photo.
Cropping should begin when taking photos.
Fill you frame and eliminate distractions.
Put the important subject to the right or left of the frame.
Give your subject room to move (they are not a mime in a box).
You cannot improve everything about a photo.
The more pictures, the better.

Lauren Gutlohn

From that Blyden girl

I attended various classes at NSPA hoping to gain new ideas and thoughts that could help contribute to our yearbook. I went to many writing and interviewing classes and the number one thing I learned was that everyone has a story. No matter how difficult it may be to grasp the story or get the person to talk about it, it’s there. It’s important to know what your focus is on; stories are about people not about things. Listening and observing are two techniques that sound so simple, yet sometimes we forget to do them. During an interview sometimes I’m so anxious about what to say, and the next question I’m going to ask I forget to actually listen to the person, and observe everything they do, which helps an immense amount in learning about that person. There is no such thing as “the perfect question” however; I learned a way to come close.

First of all, it’s extremely important to do research about the topic or person you’re going to interview so that you come off like you know what you’re talking about, and save the most difficult or uncomfortable question for last, that way you can still write a story with what you have. It’s important to ask specific questions, that use words like “why” or “how”.

Along with the writing classes I attended, I also went to a photography class as well. For action shots, I learned to avoid keeping the action in the center, and to try to get as close to the subject as possible. Repetition can make a picture look unique as well as different angles. Never just watch the game or event that’s taking place, only watch through your lens, while constantly taking shots. A photograph is always more meaningful when it contains emotion, and when it isn’t posed.
Over the 3 days in Saint Louis, I learned a vast amount about journalism and hope to carry all of that information with me throughout the years. I was also able to form a bond with the members of our family, and share an experience that one could never forget.

Jessica Blyden

Not just another staffer

“Nothing in life should be handed to you.” While at NSPA in St. Louis in November, I learned this great quote which pertains to all. It started out on a cold Thursday when 9 of our family landed, got into the taxi, checked into the hotel and went to the America’s Center where we were able to meet different publishing companies. We went to the Taylor Publishing Booth where our 2008 book was on display.

The next two mornings we woke up early, headed to breakfast, and went straight to our classes. My favorite classes that I learned the most in were classes on how to make our copy more interesting, classes about interviews, about caption writing, and about photography. I learned a lot from these classes about different ways to layout our spreads, ways to make our articles better, and how not to be afraid when interviewing people. On the last day of our classes, we met up with our publishing company and they looked over every spread we have made so far. We realized that our book is great, cover not so much, but we still have many things to fix. I learned a lot on this trip and hope the next few months in yearbook we can all focus on changing the way we do things. No more sloppy writing, we need great copy.

Katie Abell