Student newspapers are crucial

THURSDAY,  SEPT 17, 2020    (Vol. 2  No. 23)
Stack of newspapers
(Texas Monthly)
On August 18, Rice University’s student-run newspaper, the Thresher, broke the news that one of the school’s eleven residential colleges would move its freshman orientation activities online after two student orientation leaders tested positive for COVID-19.
The news that two students had tested positive before the semester even began set off alarm bells for some readers.
The story, written by Thresher co–editor in chief Rishab Ramapriyan, is an example of the crucial role student-run newspapers have assumed as universities reopen around the state and country.
Front pages once filled with stories about football games and student politics are now dedicated to tracking the latest test results, reporting on breaches of social distancing guidelines, and pressing university administrators for more transparency.
(The Lead)
If 2020 has done one thing right, it’s successfully reaffirmed the need for talented journalists to report on difficult topics. But being a strong student journalist in 2020 AND feeling empowered by your work? Easier said than done.
Over the past two years, I have had the incredible fortune to kickstart my career as a journalist working at RadioActive Youth Media. RadioActive is an award-winning youth radio journalism program housed at KUOW (Seattle’s NPR station).
While at RadioActive, I’ve watched my peers publish an incredible breadth of stories. In fact, nearly every young storyteller leaves the program feeling empowered by their work.
Here’s what I’ve learned at RadioActive about elevating both my own and other diverse youth voices.
  1. Tell stories that only you can tell.
  2. Prioritize accessibility and empathy in your organizational culture.
  3. Engage actively, not passively, with your audience.
This week represents the first week of publishing for many high schools across the state and, as has been the case with those that started earlier, there are a lot of stories about Zoom and how both teachers and students are adjusting. This has been a theme for community colleges and universities as well. It shows up more consistently among high schools, though. Below in high student posts is a link to the first one I’ve seen about a virtual homecoming, though. Now if sports could only figure out how to have virtual games.
(Reynolds Institute)
As far as I can tell, the Internet is mostly duct-taped together. And why should visual journalism be any different? In a world of flashy D3.js wrappers and React components and the like, sometimes you just need a chart—and you need it as quickly as possible. In other words, you don’t need interactivity; you need something that’s the right size, the right resolution, and allows you to use your publication’s custom fonts and colors. Bonus points if you don’t have to write a line of code.
I’d like to make a pitch for the unglamorous. Faced with, say, an HTML table, how can you go from data to publication-ready graphic as quickly as possible?
First things first. To set yourself up for success, you’ll need some template files: the kind of stuff you’ll only ever create once but return to again and again. Data visualization is at its slowest when you have to slog through reminding yourself where your publication’s logo is on the server and how to place it on your graphic with matplotlib or a similar charting library. Let’s skip all that.
High School
(Santiago HS – Corona)
(Hughson HS)
(Whitney HS – Rocklin)
Community College
(Santa Rosa)
(CSU San Diego)
CSU San Marcos Cougar  (Vol. 51   No. 1)
– – –
Look for more links to student stories at the Online Elsewhere Facebook page. Trying something new with your program? Something interesting happen? Let me know at (cameron without the “e”). 
Copyright 2020 by Rich Cameron

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