Sunday, July 23, 2017

Back at it at ISJW 2017!

Back & Better Than EVER!

Featuring a review of what happened last school year following my first ISJW experience

I am so excited to say that I am typing up this post from a bunk bed in Burge Hall. Why am I in Burge Hall you ask? Well, I decided to come back to the Iowa Summer Journalism Workshop for 2017! I'm taking part in the Publication Leadership Academy this year and I'm itching to get started. 

After completing the Personal Writing Workshop last year, I was inspired to bring Journalism into my school environment. My high school does not have a Journalism program and as a result, I felt there was a gaping hole in my school community. On my way home to Wisconsin I drafted plans for making the Journalism Club a reality. I found a teacher to be the club's adviser and ended up presenting my pitch for the Journalism Club in front of my high school's Activities Coordinator and brand new Principal. 

Luckily, they thought it was a great idea and I got the green light to proceed into recruiting members. 

Challenge number one, keeping up club attendance. 
As most newspaper staff members know, the first meeting has a great turn out. You leave school feeling optimistic about the new school year and excited to start writing stories. Attendance was something that the Journalism Club struggled with all year. Thankfully, there were some dedicated members that stuck with it and wrote articles throughout the school year. 

Challenge number two, getting readers interested. 
The Journalism Club had zero budget and I intended it to be that way. It's more appealing to propose a cost-less club to a new principal than one that requires a few grand every time the publication goes into print. The Journalism Club's mission was to produce online student news content... and we did! It was great! We had announcements read about our paper! We had posters advertising around the school! But alas, out of sight, out of mind... or should I say online and out of mind? 


Challenge number three, keeping a deadline set in stone
When I started the Journalism Club I was starting my Junior year in high school so I completely understood that school (and work) comes before a club. Balancing the three was an incredible challenge at times and what seemed to take the back seat was the Journalism Club sometimes. 

I'm not ashamed to admit that the freshman year of the Journalism Club was not perfect. Going in I knew it would be a massive challenge but I decided that Journalism was too freaking important to leave it missing from our list of clubs at Marshfield High School. I wanted to expose students to a career path that was previously closed off to them due to not having Journalism offered as a course. Journalism is learning how to use your voice in writing and I think that's one of the most important skills a person can have today. Defending what you believe in? That whole argumentation unit you slaved over in eighth grade? There are careers where you can argue for money. Writing about a cause or program that you're passionate about? There are careers where you can write about something you enjoy... for money. Talk about finding a career you're passionate about!

"Journalism is my Passion" tangent aside, writing outside of school is actually a lot to ask a high school student. I get it, AP classes infect probably half of the kids at my high school's schedule (and some double or triple up on them... yikes!). When I told this to my boss at Explore Marshfield he said I was making excuses and maybe I am. But deadlines were flexible and it got to be really frustrating when I didn't get articles promised to me... especially time sensitive ones. 

How were challenges two and three addressed?

To answer that question I have to talk a bit about my side work at different local publications.

I was offered an internship through my high school's school/work program at Hub City Times, a local print newspaper. That was something I never imagined would happen and it was super cool. 

So, word gets out about the Journalism Club and my adviser is contacted by someone from an online publication, Explore Marshfield. I get offered a position with them, which I accept. In my... well I'm not going to call it an interview because it wasn't really an interview... getting-to-know-you meeting I was talking about some challenges I was facing in regards to staff meeting deadlines and my boss, who had only been my boss for about five minutes, said, "How can we solve this?" and BOOM! All of a sudden, he just offers to print our student newspaper for us. The angels were singing and a holy light was shining down on him. Just kidding, but I was taken aback! 

The plan: pay for a spring print edition of student newspaper with local ads. 

The Print Edition rejuvenated the club. It gave us something to really work towards... something to really polish up. It was our big end of the year project and everyone worked really hard on it. We put together fantastic content and had it professionally laid out and disaster struck. Administration decided it wasn't necessary for us to print and that was the last word on our print edition.

And here I am, laid out on a bunk bed in Burge Hall, ready to learn from mistakes and become a better editor in chief. Hit me with your best shot, ISJW. I'm ready.