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

Learning how to manage

An Archway to New Ideas, and Family Bonds

What started with a 4:45 a.m. wakeup call ended in a weekend to never forget. From Thursday to Sunday seniors and sophomores from our staff attended the National Scholastic Press Association’s fall conference in St. Louis to learn new and innovative ideas to bring back to the staff. In the morning we attended workshops and in the afternoons and evenings we ventured around the somewhat deserted city of St. Louis.

Here are some tips from workshops that I attended that you can all apply to your work in yearbook:
Provide a more journalistic approach to everything that you do
Create a coverage diagram while planning spreads
Always include a secondary headline
Keep copy formats consistent throughout the book
Incorporate design and color into headlines
Include students in the book at least three times
Include more feature writing in spreads
Design spreads from the inside of a page to the outside (leaving white space for the outside border)

Not only did we have the chance to attend workshops over the weekend, but we also made a special visit to the famous St. Louis Arch. It may have been freezing for us Floridians, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time and bonding as a family. I encourage all of you to attend as many workshops as you can throughout yearbook in the future. It is a great learning experience that helps you form close bonds with other staffers. So look out for applications for CSPA’s spring conference in March. They are coming soon to a yearbook room near you.

Haley Goldsmith

Our photographer takes a picture

At the CSPA meeting in St. Louis my favorite class by far was the one I took with Jessica pertaining finding each staff memebers' "color" and traits that went along with how they scored on the test. They proved to be reasonably accurate pinning Jessica as the leader and myself as the person who hates routine and authority but is fit for photographer. The class helped to show the strengths, weaknesses, how each "color" reacted under pressure, how they took criticism, and what positions they would excel at on Yearbook staff. The colors were either orange, blue, green or gold and I learned a lot about myself and how to handle situations more efficiently by taking this course.

Another interesting class I attended was about making yearbooks "green" and little ways we could all help conserve our environment. While I do understand that the advice I learned can't be used in this years book I think the Information is useful for everyday life. An example would be: "If thermostats in every American home were lowered 1 degree F during the winter, the nation would save 230 million barrels of crude oil - enough to fill an oil tanker 400 times. This equals the amount of oil being imported into the US from Iraq each year." I found that quote to put a lot of things in perspective so I've been cutting down on AC during this cool weather.

Pertaining the actual book becoming green, we could use recycled paper in the book. "Only twenty percent of the world's forests remain in their original undisturbed state." Another way to reduce our impact on the environment while still producing a quality book would be to use water soluble glue or vegetable based in instead of mineral based ink.

Lauren Kett

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From the copy desk

We have a lot of problems in our copy. Nobody likes to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. The cliche database is on overload (too many articles with 'hard work and determination paid off' or 'many students'). Mediocre articles were turned in just because they were due that day. Articles were left lonely for days because nobody followed the 72-hour rule. Mistakes that could have been caught with the tap of the spell-check button were overlooked. Writers have been very adamant that their work is perfect and doesn't need any correcting.

Environmentalist staffers are worried that by clicking 'print,' a tree will fall in a remote forest in India (use the backs of the paper if this is an issue). I have mentioned once before that I cannot make edits straight on the computer, and the article needs to be printed so I can edit by hand. If there is an un-understandable marking, come to me and I will gladly explain it- don't let me make the same edits.

Our yearbook is exceptional but our copy needs a lot of work. Hopefully we are willing to change because it's coming soon.

Arielle Davis