Journalism department shifts focus
Article by Crystal Foster
(Monday, May 2, 2016)
The high school journalism program will experience three exciting changes next year, including a printed newspaper, a photography business, and more of a social media presence.
According to Jamie Manhart, journalism instructor, she recently met with Zach Ahrens, president and publisher of “The Topeka Capital-Journal.” His vision is to print newspapers of local Shawnee County high schools on a rotating basis.
Manhart said Ahren alluded to printing six to seven editions of “The Eagle Times.” All high school students would receive printed copies of the currently online-only newspaper, and then “The Eagle Times” would be inserted into every “Topeka Capital Journal” newspaper as well.
“It has been a long time since we have had a printed school newspaper, and I am excited about that possibility. Not only will it increase the readership of our current online newspaper, but it will increase the exposure of our student journalists. It’s cool to see your byline online, but there is just something about seeing your name print that makes it more ‘official.’
“Not only will the talent of my writers and photographers be shared with a much wider audience, but the achievements of Silver Lake students will become more publicized as well,” Manhart shared.
Junior Abby Brockmann, newspaper editor, is also looking forward to the change.
“I’m super excited to see the newspaper in print… Seeing everything in print and in the hands of students will be really neat to see. It will give us a real-life experience of having to hit a strict deadline to be published in the TCJ,” Brockmann said.
Ahrens also said he is working on a student advisory board that will assemble students from all over Shawnee County high schools to meet and discuss news that affects teens.
Next year, the journalism program will also start a photography business. The students will not only be taking junior high and senior high school portraits and sports team photos for the yearbook and for purchase, but they will also be marketing their business, advertising prices, setting rates, dealing with customer service, packaging the photos when they come in, and distributing.
“This seems like a big undertaking, especially with how busy my students already are and how many projects we are currently juggling. However, I know it is the right thing to do because it is providing students with so many real-life skills that education is truly all about right now,” Manhart said.
The third change in the journalism department will deal with their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. Manhart said she wants her students to be more involved in the social media communication of the district.
“My journalism students need to focus on fresh, constant, daily online presence for our website, social media, etc. That is what journalism is all about now, and it has been for awhile. I have met with several industry leaders who echo my sentiments. If I want to prepare my students for the current communications world, they need to be posting and tweeting daily about what they are working on, analyzing the best times of the day to post news, and surveying what attracts their audience most. Our focus needs to shift,” Manhart said.