Young journalists on the South Coast are on the lookout for scoops as their school newspapers and websites get back online for the new year.
Advisers and student editors are focusing on expanding their audiences and training new staff members.
Dos Pueblos High School’s Charger Account is ready for its second year of online-only news coverage under teacher Mike Gerken, who is taking over for now-Assistant Principal Bill Woodard.
Last year, Woodard spearheaded the journalism class’s move from a monthly printed newspaper to an online publication, which resulted in much more content and a wider following for the students’ work.
Gerken, an English teacher and former Dos Pueblos girls basketball coach, said he is excited to get started. He has already met with the new group of editors — an impressive group of experienced Charger Account students — and they’ve been talking strategy on the best way to cover the campus.
Senior Haley Peterson will be editor in chief, joined by editors Emma Craine, Emma Redick, Malika Agrawal, Kierstin Brown and Rachel Donovan.
Woodard plans to help out as often as his schedule allows.
Gerken said he is counting on their experience to help him get up to speed with the daily workings of a news website.
“My journalism experience is limited to reading The New York Times and Sports Illustrated since I was 10 years old,” he said. “In the first week I’m going to set the tone: ‘It’s a serious publication and I’m the teacher, but depend a lot on editors. Whether you like taking orders from a high school kid or not, you’re going to, because they know more than you.’”
Their main goals are to cover more issues in-depth and to get more writers to contribute content instead of a few heavy-hitters. Last year, sports editor (and Noozhawk intern) Kristen Gowdy contributed 80 percent of the articles, Gerken noted.
He hopes to recruit new students from English classes, too.
“It’s one of the things I like about teaching English — you find some kids who have a distinctive voice in writing,” Gerken said. “When you have a kid like that, you have to encourage them to use that voice in some way and get it heard.”
The editors, like his basketball players, show up because they want to and care about the product.
“It’s the same thing I see about the editors — this is their baby,” he said. “When you see kids care about something and are this passionate, it’s really refreshing.”
Teacher John Dent runs the video production class, which puts out the daily television broadcast DP News, and yearbook class. His classes share the computer lab with Charger Account students, and he has been able to get grant and Regional Occupational Program funding for a television studio and sound wall. He calls himself a “yerd” — yearbook nerd — and integrates the two subjects by having students create a yearbook video commercial.
San Marcos High School
At San Marcos High School, The King’s Page editors are already dealing with their first challenge of the year: Western Web Printing went out of business in mid-August. The King’s Page will have an unorthodox back-to-school issue this year — putting stories on the school’s website and printing out fliers — while they find a new printer, but will be back in business for their September issue.
After putting out a record-breaking 44-page paper in June, seniors and co-editors-in-chief Cynthia Anderson and Inez Kaminski are ready to take charge for the year.
Unlike Dos Pueblos, their hearts are in the print edition, which is backed by subscriptions and ad sales, said King’s Page adviser Luke Ohrn, who teaches journalism, U.S. history, law and mock trial.
Being able to write is one of the qualifications of incoming students, Ohrn said.
“We don’t spend a lot of time teaching them to write a sentence — we teach them how to write an article,” he said.
If students finish their requirements for the class, he urges them to find something else to work on, so there is more content.
Kaminski said they want to explore an online edition and new media as well, but keeping print is a priority. She wants to take advantage of the print medium and focus on features, with graphic layouts to look like a newspaper or magazine.
Kaminski started contributing to the paper’s center graphic last year and quickly began attending editor’s meetings. Anderson, on the other hand, has worked at The King’s Page since her freshman year in almost every available position. With two people running things, it’s a lot more organized, Ohrn says.
Many students fall in love with the class and take it multiple times, while others find ways to stay involved and write even if they have schedule conflicts.
Santa Barbara High School
Santa Barbara High School has a journalism class this year after years of only having a club. When the school asked for a volunteer to take the class, chemistry teacher Stephanie Rivera was ready for the challenge.
She still has four chemistry classes, but eagerly signed up to take on the elective for a change of pace.
“I get to work with kids in a different capacity and get to know them. I love the idea of a change in venue and love the idea of teaching a whole different thing,” she said. “I feel excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time; we’re starting not from scratch, but kind of from the bottom floor to get this paper built back up.”
Student editors — especially those who have worked in the club for years — will the running the show.
“I told them, ‘It’s your paper, your creation; I’m your moral compass and the person who gives you a grade,’” Rivera said.
Rivera and her students spent the first days back brainstorming plans for the year. They want to create a mobile app and digitally archive the copies of old school newspapers, which fill several cabinets and go back to the 1920s.
She said she wants the paper to run like a real business, and students’ first task is to find a new printer, since they also used Western Web. Students will not only get journalism experience, but some real-world work experience during their time in the class.
Depending on subscription revenues and other funds, the class most likely will cut back on printed issues and move toward a web-based publication, Rivera said, adding that an online presence will make it easier to reach a larger audience, including alumni.
Laguna Blanca School
She said the class got new Apple computers and updated software for 2012-13 and will publish six 16-page papers throughout the year. New staffers will be paired up with experienced editors to give them more ownership of the paper.
The Fourth Estate launched an online version last fall that was a finalist for the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker award.
McHale and senior Daria Etezadi, this year’s editor-in-chief, went to a conference in Washington, D.C., over the summer. They were inspired by the speakers at the conference — including Pulitzer Prize winners — and a visit to the Newseum.
The entire newspaper class plans to attend the Journalism Education Association Spring National Conference in San Francisco next April and have guest speakers in class, McHale said.
Bishop Garcia Diego High School
Students research, write and produce stories for Bishop Diego Television and create a daily live broadcast for the school, said Yolanda Salgado-Tovar, director of admissions, public relations and alumni relations.
Junior High Schools
Santa Barbara Junior High School’s journalism students produce a school paper, work on the yearbook and cover the Santa Barbara International Film Festival under teacher and adviser Steve Shelton. They plan to add video to their repertoire this year.
La Cumbre Junior High has an after-school newspaper club, and its students publish a quarterly paper and online news website. The television/video production class puts out weekly video programs for the school.
Goleta Valley Junior High puts out the Next Navigator newspaper with adviser Justina Weinbender, an English teacher, and its leadership class produces videos on topics such as anti-bullying.