Student Journalists Get Real

William Brown, Staff Writer/Editor-in-Chief

Theresa DiGeronimo’s journalism class visited The Record editorial offices in Woodland Park on March 1, 2012 to learn from professionals about the process of writing and publishing a newspaper. The class was greeted by production copyeditor Joe Dziublenski who gave the students an overview of the day’s schedule and a tour of the news offices. He then led the students into the news conference room where they spent the rest of the morning with editors from various news departments who cycled through for 30-minute meetings.

Students were given the opportunity to sit in on the morning news meeting led by Editor Martin Gottlieb. Gottlieb led each of his key editors through the main stories in the day’s paper. He pointed out strong leads and weak quotes, allowing the students to see that the editing process is not just something that happens in the classroom. Each editor then discussed story ideas for the following day’s paper, giving the students an inside look at how the stories, photos, and even layout are determined. Gottlieb left HHS students with sound advice, saying, “Words don’t mean a lot with context.”

Assistant Director of Features, Marc Schwarz, spoke to the students about their most recent review assignment for the school newspaper, The Clarion. “Develop a thick skin,” said Schwarz. “No matter how right you are, somone will think you’re wrong.”  He then gave the students advice on writing reviews for movies, books and video games. Schwarz also told the students that the only way to learn something is by doing it.

Bruce Lowry, an editorial and column writer, then helped the students gain a better perspective on writing editorials for a newspaper.  He explained that editorials have many objectives, such as to persuade, comment, react, or scold. “We try to be the conscience of the paper,” Lowry said about the editorial writers. He also explained the differences between editorial writing and hard news writing, noting that a writer has the ability to be more “colorful” in editorial writing.

“It’s the beast the never sleeps,” said Sean Oates, The Record’s web editor, referring to the upkeep of an online newspaper. Oates informed the students that when it comes to Internet newspapers, the stories require constant updating and editing to keep the material new and fresh. “We don’t want the online content to be the exact same as the print paper,” he added, noting that the ability to instantly publish breaking news gives an online publication an advantage over print. For students interested in going into the field of journalism, Oates suggested that they be well-rounded communicators: “Get to know Internet software, photography, video, and social media, as well as writing.”

News reporter Rebecca O’Brien told the class that her first year as a reporter for The Record has been very rewarding and exciting. O’Brien also told the students that doing interviews in person is much better than doing them through email or over the phone. “Being face-to-face can be more comfortable for the other person,” O’Brien said. “They may admit to something more willingly.”

The students left The Record offices with many tips on writing and editing and the career of journalism that they will find useful as they return to Hawthorne High School to continue their efforts to make The Clarion the best high school newspaper in the state.