September 20, 2018 / Podcasts

Ask Mike: What makes yearbook storytelling great?

Written by Shiloh Scott

Yearbook is a form of storytelling, and Bruce Watterson, known as “The Yearbook Whisperer,” is the Homer of the art form. In the newest episode of the Ask Mike podcast, Watterson and host Mike Taylor, CJE, contemplate the ways yearbook staffs can tell a great story.


They muse on the many options yearbook staffs have tell a story – it’s more than just ink on paper now – and how students can take advantage of those additional methods. Watterson shares some recent yearbook trends he’s impressed by, and what he’d like to see more of in the future. Watterson expressed his anticipation in what lies ahead for the yearbook world.

“Students are very, very creative. And now we have the tools, digitally, for them to do as powerful a production, publication, design component as any professional magazine.”

Building a better yearbook

Watterson answers the question he’s most asked, “What does it take to win awards?” As you can probably guess, it’s not a simple answer.

Watterson answers the question, “What does your perfect 10 yearbook look like?” He shares what his “perfect 10” yearbook theme would look like: simple, conversational and realistic.

He shares his thoughts on what keeps a yearbook interesting throughout the entire book. “What makes it come alive,” as Watterson put it. He wants to see energy on every spread, which depends on the editorial team.

Watterson and Taylor discuss yearbook photography and what they’ve been seeing lately, and how yearbook staffs can keep it interesting. He’s enjoyed seeing the reemergence of black and white photography, when used well.

He shares the benefits of getting a critique – and when it’s appropriate to ask for a redo. He gives advice on what a yearbook adviser should look for in a successful staff.

Watterson believes in the power of yearbook, and his reverence and enthusiasm are an inspiring listen. His enthusiasm is still going strong, even after 44 years in the business, and his insights are invaluable.

Listen in

You can listen to the episode at or search for Ask Mike on your preferred podcast listening platform, including Apple podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.

If you have your own question for Mike Taylor, send it to or find him on Twitter, @yrbkMikeTaylor, and don’t forget to use #AskMike!

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Shiloh Scott

Shiloh Scott was the Digital Marketing Manager for Walsworth. They enjoy working in a variety of mediums, from print to broadcast to social media. Shiloh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.