Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Text of Plaschke's keynote available

If you attended the JEA/NSPA spring national convention about two weeks ago, you probably attended LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke's keynote speech on Saturday. And if you did, undoubtedly you walked away inspired and emboldened to carry out the mission of great journalism: To tell the stories of those around us.

If you didn't attend the convention, or did but somehow missed the most amazing keynote I've heard in my nine conventions, or you just want to relive the speech again, there's good news: Text of his speech is available at this link. I plan on using it in my class every year from here on out. It captures everything that we should aspire to as journalists and journalism educators.

Here's a preview to whet your whistle, or if you were there, to remind you how awesome it was:

I was a miracle. All because of my words. It was proof that words can take you place you will never imagine.

That can be you. Be that miracle. Your words can make you one. That’s why journalism is still the greatest equalizing business in the world. It doesn’t matter your color or your gender or your bank account or where you live or how you talk. If you can write, you can touch, and if you can touch, we will hire you, because that’s one thing newspapers still do better than anyone else, we can touch and be touched, the morning paper soggy from the milk and the tears.

Be the miracle.

And write the miracles.

Awesome. That's the only word I can think of.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Study confirms journalism kids do better

As journalism educators, we all believe that exposing kids to all of the trappings of journalism -- writing, design, photography, leadership, critical thinking and self management -- is good for their education. But for a long time, very little empirical evidence existed to back up what we all intuitively knew.

No longer. A new 2008 study by the Newspaper Association of America has reaffirmed the findings of a groundbreaking 1987 study that found that students with journalism experience had better grades and standardized college entrance test scores than students without journalism experience.

Just over 31,000 college students were sampled for the study, roughly 20 percent of whom had experience on their high school newspaper and/or yearbook. As in the 1987 study, the journalism students had statistically significant higher scores in the following areas:
  • High school overall grade point average
  • ACT composite score
  • ACT English score
  • College freshman English grades
  • College freshman grade point average
While skeptics might say that students involved in journalism are probably better students to begin with, the study does "show conclusively that journalism experience in high school translates into better college performance in several key areas, such as the ability to express oneself clearly and reason incisively," according the study's executive summary.

According to the study itself:

"If nothing else, we can conclude that high school newspaper or yearbook staff involvement is an excellent outlet for talented, active and involved students. It also gives them a chance to apply their natural leadership abilities while also exercising their critical thinking, designing and writing skills."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Create a motto, win a prize

Roy Peter Clark, writing guru at the Poynter Institute, is conducting a contest: Come up with a six-word motto for journalism.

But time is short. Here are the rules:
  1. The motto must be about journalism, but does not have to contain the word journalism.
  2. The motto must be exactly six words long, not five, not seven.
  3. Multiple entries from the same writer are OK.
  4. The deadline for entries is: Friday, April 25, at noon EST.
  5. Poynter is free to publish, or not, any entry.
Here's what he came up with in getting the juices flowing:
  • Last one out, turn off lights.
  • If it doesn't fit, edit it.
  • Need more Knight, but less Ridder.
  • All the news no longer fits.
  • See no evil, write no story.
  • Feed the watchdog, euthanize the lapdog.
Think you can do better? E-mail it to Clark by Friday. The winner will receive a free copy of Clark's book, "Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer." I attended a keynote of his at a national convention, and his 50 tools are simple and powerful. Give it a shot.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WJEA members: Don't forget to vote!

If you're a WJEA member, you should have received your ballot for the 2008 WJEA officer election in the mail. There are five candidates running for four positions:
  • President: Vince DeMiero, Mountlake Terrace HS
  • Vice President: Sandra Coyer, Puyallup HS, and Jeff Nusser, Wenatchee HS
  • Secretary: Susan Holihan, Mt. Si HS
  • Treasurer: Deb Kalina, Jackson HS
Full candidate information can be found here. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by April 30; you can vote in person at the May board meeting in Kenmore on May 3.

Washington storms California, returns with plenty of hardware

It was a successful weekend for the Washington schools at the annual NSPA/JEA spring national convention in Anaheim, Calif., over the weekend, as seven different publications placed in Best of Show competitions and 94 students came back with individual awards.

The Best of Show competition was highlighted by the first place finish by The Peninsula Outlook in the newspaper of eight pages or less category, led by editor Taylor Buck, the 2008 WJEA Future Journalist of the Year, and adviser Derek Smith.

The other Best of Show placers:
  • The Sound, Gig Harbor HS - Seventh Place, Newspapers 1-8 pages
    Arianna Thornton and Catherine Van Zimmerman, editor
    Ehren Gossler, adviser
  • The Hawkeye, Mountlake Terrace HS - 10th Place, Newspapers 13-16 pages
    Ji Mun, editor
    Vince DeMiero, adviser
  • Viking Vanguard, Puyallup HS - Fourth Place, Newspapers 17+ pages
    Matt Anderson, editor
    Sandra Coyer, adviser
  • The Apple Leaf, Wenatchee HS - Fifth Place, Newspapers 17+ pages
    Claire Mueleman, editor
    Jeff Nusser, adviser
  • The Academy Times, Charles Wright Academy - Seventh Place, Newsmagazines
    Emily Rome, editor
    Steve Matson, adviser
  • WaWa, Wenatchee HS - Eighth Place, Yearbooks 275-324 pages
    Madeleine Warner, editor
    Jeff Nusser, adviser
As for individual awards, the following students earned superior ratings in their contests. Just 6 percent of all entries earned that designation:
  • Dallas Welker, Emerald Ridge HS - Newswriting
  • Megan Albert, Emerald Ridge HS - Sportswriting
  • Alex Gratzer, Kentwood HS - Review Writing
  • Maria DeMiero, Mountlake Terrace HS - Newsmagazine Layout
  • Ji Mun, Mountlake Terrace HS - Advertising
  • Kellen Ray, Wenatchee HS - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Sports
  • Elise Utterback, Franklin Pierce HS - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Sports
  • Laura Livingston, Charles Wright Academy - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Academics
  • Katie Wheeler, Deer Park HS - Yearbook Copy/Caption: Academics
  • Elsy Pawelak, Gov. John R. Rogers HS - Yearbook Layout: Theme
  • Sara Chemodurow, Gov. John R. Rogers HS - Computer Design: Infographics
  • Mike Ake, Puyallup HS - Computer Design: Photoshop Art
  • Travis King, Peninsula HS - Newspaper Sports Photography
  • Cody Gibbons, Wenatchee HS - Two Weeks' Work
  • Rebecca Perry, Emerald Ridge HS - Video Commercial/PSA
The full results of the Best of Show can be found here, while the full results of the write-offs can be found here. Congratulations to all the winners!

Monday, April 07, 2008

A challenge from the state of California

Many of you out there have received the free help of the Student Press Law Center at one time or another. WJEA supports this awesome organization with a $500 donation each year, but this year, we've been challenged to raise the bar.

California's state student journalism organization has pledged $2,000 to the SPLC, and is challenging other states, including Washington, to best that figure.

A couple of WJEA members already have pledged support, and we're asking if you'd consider doing the same. If you'd like to make a pledge -- no matter how small -- you can either e-mail WJEA president Kathy Schrier with the amount and she'll send you an invoice, or you can make a direct pledge and donation online via this link.

California is a much bigger state, but wouldn't it be awesome if we could show up to Anaheim with a big check for our important friends at the SPLC?