Wearing black badges this time around

Written by Chase Snider

My adviser, Leslie Orman, took over a crumbling program just two years ago, as I stepped into the realm of journalism. I was her first class of “journalism one” and I knew I felt something special. I went on later that year to become the first sophomore editor for our paper and on my first day as an “actual journalism two staff member” went to the Inauguration of President Obama as the only nationally credentialed high schooler.

When we attended our first convention together in St. Louis, we were sitting in a lounge when we noticed some black tags below some of the students regular badges. Throughout the weekend we would learn the journalism scholastic world would hold these students and their publications a step above the rest. They were Pacemaker finalists.

This year with a stabilized paper and a recovering year, we decided to branch out. I launched khsprairienews.com . It was late night, hundreds of sports games I had no desire to be at but attended anyway because I knew it would spark interest, and the biggest public relations nightmare of my life. Yet it all came together to make our paper, newly labeled PN Media, stand out in our community and be recognized as a local news source, not just a high school one.

Then the news came. I was sitting on the sideline of Mizzou Arena, at the University of Missouri, broadcasting a state high school championship game, when someone told me PN Media is a finalist. I stumbled off the floor, struggling to find cell phone signal.

Finally at almost 11 o’clock at night I got ahold of my adviser, well actually her husband, who was curious what he could do for me a bit from midnight on a Thursday. I said just tell her Pacemaker Finalist. That’s all it took to wake my adviser and begin the excitement of the trip to Portland.

When we got our registration packet yesterday, there sat those black badges. I think if you could have taken the true look of satisfaction on my adviser’s face, packaged it with the pounding of my heart, and sold it, you would never have to work again. The first draft of our website started on $6.99, and a blog post from a JEA convention. So pay attention while you stay current in Portland, you never know what may come next.

Chase Snider