Friday, May 02, 2008

Journalistic musings

There are several things WRONG with what passes for journalism class at ... hm, let's call this Our Lovely High School, or OLHS for short. First of all, we are on 4x4 semester blocks, which means four 90-minute classes at a time that last a semester. After winter break, classes switch and students have four new 90-minute classes. (With a few exceptions - the primary one being the repeater-repeater-repeaters.)

The OLHS yearbook, however, is produced annually. It being a YEAR book, and all. So getting a fresh crop of inmates in January is rarely pleasant. Plus, the students who decided it was too much work but didn't care enough about GPA to demand a transfer to another class have of course left pages unfinished. BLEAUGH. For some reason, the yearbook carries much more prestige than the newspaper... perhaps because this is Georgia, and the administration is SO conservative that even a news article about an abstinence program sponsored by the school has to be edited to make sure that the word S-E-X does not appear anywhere in the article!


Anyway, my difficulty this year has been that historically, production has taken precedence over instruction. Now, when you've got a large group of returners that can handle producing the book and the paper so that you can teach the newbz, that's not a big deal.

This year, I had THREE returning staff. Everyone else was new.

The upside to this is that I have been given permission to propose a CURRICULUM for the class (*gasp*) and to have production take place after school and on weekends. This is something I have dreamed of for some time, and I've been poking around online and looking at whatever resources I can dredge up. Considering what is required for newspaper/yearbook production and what I think constitutes good journalism, I've come up with a set of objectives... see below.

Feedback is WELCOME. And thanks!


Melissa B. said...

Quick question: Are these going to be separate classes from yearbook and newspaper--ie, the intro classes, lasting a semester each? We have Journalism 1, which is one year, as the intro class, then kids split off into newspaper and yearbook staffs, which are also classes that last one year each. Some kids are in the j-program four years running. One thing your intro cherubs definitely need is some kind of Code of Ethics, to make them take ownership of what they write. If they are trained in good journalistic practices, then you will have less of the administration reading over your shoulder.

Clix said...

Nope. It's one class each semester, and that's it. My other classes are regular language arts (currently, freshmen).

Hm. I may see if the AP who reviews our work would be willing to come to a planning session so that we could develop such a Code together. That's a little scary, though... it's a bit of an understatement to say that she's more conservative than the students are. ;)

cupcake said...

Ours is somewhat like melissa b's; Journalism I is the feeder course and offered only in the fall (we have the same four-block schedule that you do). After Journalism I, the little darlings can sign up for the second half of Annual Production, which, as at your school, is offered year-long.

The thing with our Annual Production is that we're also supposed to produce the school newspaper.

Shoot me now, because I get this plumb next year. And you do not want to know how long it's been since I've worked on a yearbook staff. Let's just say that we had one computer. And a lot of scissors and cement glue.

I like your goals. I may have to steal them, giving proper accreditation, of course.

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