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Spring 2009

May 27, 2009 / Spring 2009 / Staff Management

Despite our differences, our common purpose is what motivates us: to produce a good book for our audience at a reasonable cost in manpower and dollars. We want to be proud of our efforts. And we have every right to have fun, too.

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Yearbook staff members typically form cliques based on previous friendships and their grade levels. Freshmen are often intimidated by the upperclassmen and are reluctant to ask them for help during deadline crunches. New members of any grade are unsure of their roles and how they fit in.

These situations can create an uncomfortable working environment within the classroom. Experienced staff members know how to make newcomers feel welcome in this high-stress environment where they have much to learn.

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I start the school year with ethics as the number one focus. I have my students research news stories on the internet, finding incidents where students violated the rights of others using school media. This exercise enables students to see their legal responsibility as part of the school media, and to be careful with images. I also give an essay assignment, allowing students to pick from two sticky, ethical situations, and ask them to respond as to how they would handle one of them.

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May 26, 2009 / Photo Quest / Spring 2009

The more things change, the more they remain the same. Digital photography reminds us of that adage. When it comes to young photojournalists deciding whether to use a flash, the problems and solutions are much the same as in the days of film. Today’s digital cameras offer some ease that we did not have in the film days, but choices must still be made. This Photo Quest should help budding photojournalists make better choices in getting the best images for their yearbooks.

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With technology and digital media evolving at an incredible rate, it is not surprising that journalistic ethics have struggled to keep pace. In the struggle, we have yet to arrive at one set conclusion.

In March 2001, a Los Angeles Times photographer who was covering the war in Iraq used Adobe Photoshop to combine two photos. The resulting image was printed on the front page of two newspapers. Less than a week later, the photographer was fired.

In some of these situations, it is clear that photojournalists or their editors made unethical decisions. In others, judgment is not so easy.

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