The fundamentals of journalism involve telling the story of communities, and no one does this better than the school yearbook.
Imagine teaching some journalism history without giving a lecture. Imagine encouraging reading inside your classroom and out. Start this with a small bookshelf in your classroom, about 20 books about journalism, less than $100 to buy them, and a checkout system.
Even outstanding quotations should not be out standing alone. Quotations are like grout: we cannot leave them out. Grout fills the crevices to make the wall or floor complete, but it is no substitute for tile. Quotes can fill in gaps in a story, but they cannot be substituted for a story.
The 2008 NAA Foundation research mirrors the 1987 JEA findings and provides clear evidence that student journalists earn better high school grades, perform at higher levels on college entrance exams and receive higher grades in college writing and grammar courses than students who lack that experience.
What’s the big deal about libel and school yearbooks anyway? In the history of the United States, there is no reported court decision anywhere that a high school has been held libel for content printed in its student media, according to the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.
The digital age increases the importance of Adobe Photoshop in yearbook photojournalism. Photoshop makes all the difference in the world in getting images ready to sparkle on the yearbook page. However, before discussing techniques to help in using this powerful program, let me start with some basic photo advice.
I was about to give up when I remembered meeting Samuel Beckett at the NSPA convention last year in Seattle. I heard Beckett say that he had actually been a journalism teacher for several years and was presenting a session at the convention on how teaching yearbook had sparked his imagination for the tragicomedy, “Waiting for Godot.” In his session, he asked us to read selected scenes from the play to see the close connection. In fact, he said, although most people think he is writing about the angst of the 20th century, many of the scenes in the play are really about his frustration as a yearbook teacher trying to improve the academics section.
When looking at budget cuts, you might wonder what local school board would cut the “Critical Thinking in Today’s World” class.
But yearbook and newspaper teachers and advisers know that when schools consider dropping the journalism program, that is exactly what they are doing — cutting a program that teaches critical thinking, leadership and time management, among other adult skills.
1. Genuinely inquisitive, always asking why
2. A master listener, understanding that most people love to be heard
3. Very observant and given to detail; able to describe scenes to the blind
John Hersey was one of the first journalists on the scene on Aug. 6, 1945, after the Americans dropped an atom bomb on the city of Hiroshima. He took a catastrophic event and described it through the emotional stories of six people who had been in the city: a minister, two physicians, a widow, a young factory worker and a Catholic priest. At that moment, he contributed significantly to the world history everyone studies today.