Jacky Hicks


Setting the pace with online journalism

The National Scholastic Press Association recently announced
the online Pacemaker Awards for the 2006/2007 school year. Here they are for you to explore:

Look for story ideas, coverage ideas, creative interactivity and other things you can try in your print or online publication.

Create an online version of your newspaper through Myhighschooljournalism.org.   Read more

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‘Digg’ for story ideas at popurls.com

Citizen media websites, such as YouTube, Netscape and Digg,
are a goldmine for story ideas. These sites allow users to submit stories,
videos or pictures. Users rate them, or the stories get ranked by how often they’re viewed. For example, Digg.com
has users “digg” (if they like) or “bury” (if they don’t) a submission.
The submissions with the most “diggs” appear on a popular stories page.

There are so many of these sites, however, that wading
through them would be time-consuming. Popurls.com offers a solution. The site tracks top headlines and
hits from a dozen such web sites as well as from several more conventional
sources, like Google News and Wired.

Some of these headlines can be localized. Digg’s “10 Unexpected Uses of the Ipod” 
lists downloadable programs like TipKalc, which calculates tips and totals and can
divide a check up to five different ways.
The story also mentions students using the device to record lectures, create
electronic flashcards, learn foreign languages and cheat on tests. Read more

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How to localize the Virginia Tech shootings

If your staff plans to localize the Virginia Tech shooting story, consider:
 
Al Tompkins’ “Campus Security” piece on Al’s Morning Meeting provides links to campus crime statistics and campus security details.  Seek similar information for your own school. What campus security measures does your high school employ?  What types of crimes occur on your campus?  How often? What are the trends?
  
In “Resources for covering school shootings,” Tompkins provides more good coverage tips, including “Warning Signs of Youth Violence.”  He also talks about the value of student-generated content, such as accounts and reflections on Facebook, MySpace and other networking sites. In another Al’s Morning Meeting column last October, after the killings in Colorado and then in the Amish school, Tompkins links to websites that track school violence and others that offer safer school design ideas.

Keep an eye on the A-Blast Online at Annandale High School in Virginia. The A-Blast posted a story the day after the shooting reporting on a alumna, a freshman at Virginia Tech, who died in the massacre.

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10 steps to better decisions on deadline

It’s difficult to make good decisions on deadline. The mind, muddied by the ticking of the clock, resorts to dualism—do or not-do, print or not-print, edit or not-edit, forgetting to consider ethical dimensions, such as who the decision will affect.

Poynter, together with ASNE, has created The Ethics Tool, a 10-step guide to better decision-making on deadline. The tool asks you to compose responses to a series of questions, and then compiles these responses in a printable document.

For example, Step 6 provides this list of potential stakeholders in an issue:

1. Source
2. Subject of the story
3. Family of subject or source
4. Institution affected
5. News organization
6. Other news organizations
7. Person making the decision
8. The journalist involved
9. Others

It then asks you to identify the stakeholders in your case that will be most affected as well as those that are most vulnerable. Step 7 asks you to identify alternative courses of action, and Step 8 tells you to evaluate these options by considering the likely favorite of both types of stakeholders. Read more

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Riffin’ on hip-hop: covering cultures at your school

A high school is like a small city, teeming with diversity. There are the cheerleaders, the band members, the gothics. There
are the theatre kids, and the English-as-a-second-language kids, and
the track team.  The list is endless. 

Can you tell their stories? 

National Geographic‘s multimedia piece “Hip-Hop Planet” might illustrate how. The work, a recent Morning Meeting multimedia item (March 30),
traces hip-hop culture from its African roots to the boys on the street to the stars it made famous. It examines hip-hop as a global phenomenon, from New
York to Paris
and Israel. Tompkins writes about the project:

“The piece takes a wide-angle look at the story, before
zooming in on some local talent, and working through the big names in hip-hop.
I like the mix of video, stills, music, and narration.”

“Hip-Hop Planet” is not only valuable for what it teaches
about producing multimedia but for what it shows us about the scope of journalism. Read more

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CSPA Circle winners

“The mother looks deep into the soul of the man that ended
her daughter’s life and searches for her faith.”

Such powerful language helped senior Greg Stitt of the Granite
Bay High School
Gazette win second place in news
features in Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 2007
Scholastic Circle awards.

Former GBHS High School Student Sentenced to 11 Years in PrisonFormer GBHS High School Student Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison relays the story of a former student, Kourtney Ketchersid, killed by another
former student, Joshua Bauser, when he ran a red light while driving drunk. Stitt’s writing is full of detail, from 82
mph, the speed at which Bauser’s car smashed into Ketchersid’s and ended her
life, to the Bible verse quoted on her gravestone. He also captured great quotes:

“There’s always going to be something missing,” said Kourtney’s mother, Lori. “Whether it’s going to dinner and you make
reservations — you make it for four now instead of five. It’s the little things.”

The CSPA Scholastic Circle
awards cover 75 categories, from writing to photography and
design. Read more

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Scholarships for student journalists

These sites have excellent lists of journalism scholarships for high school and college students. Take some time searching through them. You might be rewarded for your efforts.
 
Scholarships organized by state or by ethnicity
 
Lists and describes journalism scholarships for both high school and college students
 
This page details a half-dozen NABJ journalism scholarships for African-Americans, up to $5,000. Some local branches of NABJ offer scholarships, too.
 
NAHJ offers several scholarships to Hispanic students interested in journalism
 
Awards of up to $2,500 for Asian students pursuing journalism careers
 
Scholarships for Native American students pursuing journalism in higher education

This site offers scholarships to high-achieving low-income students.  Recipients in 2007 had household incomes of $0 to $62,000 and were in the top 5% of their graduating class.  Check it out at QuestBridge.
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A potentially volatile investigation

Al Tompkins’ Morning Meeting item “Dangerous chemicals in High School Labs” (March 9) is worth a look — a careful look — at any high school. A Post Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho) story reported on the discovery of half-century-year-old laboratory chemicals stuffed into a crate and left under the high school stage. Properly disposing of hazardous materials can be costly and cumbersome, and the potentially dangerous chemicals sometimes just get ignored.

Tompkins quotes from a 2005 Boston Globe story:

Old substances in science labs often aren’t found until teachers do major cleanups, such as after the departure of a longtime teacher, or when school supplies have to be moved. Compounding the problem is a lack of guidelines from the state Department of Education instructing public schools on how to store and dispose of chemicals and how often to take inventory, according to science teachers.

Deborah Parker, journalism instructor at La Pine High School (Oregon) and former chemistry teacher, recommended keeping these things in mind if pursuing the story:

How long has the chemistry teacher been on the job? Read more

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Attend a workshop this summer

Summer. Sun bathing, relaxing in front of the TV, studying journalism at a summer institute….

Ok, so maybe journalism training isn’t the first thing that comes to
mind when you think of summer, but for the dedicated, those long
vacation months are the perfect time to fit in some hard-core
journalism practice.

The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund has compiled a list of summer workshops and courses
for high school students organized by state. (They have separate lists
for college students, high school teachers, and college professors).
Most of the courses are offered through the journalism programs of
state universities and cost between $200 and $500 dollars, although
there are some for less and others for much more. Average duration is a
week.

It’s not sun bathing, but it looks good on the resume and is a great
way to make contacts and to get a feel for college-level journalism.
See what’s offered in your state. Read more

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Hard to watch, but watch and learn

Al Tompkins’ March 14 Morning Meeting, “Learning from an expert in online video,” focuses on The Washington Post’s Travis Fox and his award-winning online photojournalism piece about the refugee crisis in Darfur. The column contains great lessons for up-and-coming video journalists, especially those with an international bent. The Darfur video is a must-see for everyone, though.



Tompkins writes about the piece:



“This is a story that utilizes silence and quiet moments to teach us something about what life is like in a refugee camp. I especially like the way Travis uses the shots of barren soil to transition from character to character. And his use of natural light is nothing short of spectacular.”



Look for these techniques as you watch the video.

 

– Jacky Hicks

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