Organizing the newsroom


Ella Sizzle/flikr

Students prepare to distribute their school newspaper.

Melanie Allen, Adviser, Moon Valley HS

Running a school newspaper can be a daunting task; however, once you determine whether it’s “mine” or “theirs” and put some organization to the process, you’ll find that running a school newspaper can be a rewarding experience.

Staff positions: Before the school year ends, know who your editors (editor-in-chief, photo editor, campus editor, sports editor, etc.) will be. Take them through an application and (if needed) interview process to determine who will be the right fit to run the school’s newspaper. Other positions to appoint/accept applications for could include: ad manager, copy editor, circulation manager, reporter, photographer

Publication calendar: At the beginning of the each semester sit down with your editorial board to determine your publication dates. As calendar dates are determined, you’ll want to ensure to keep major school events in mind. Remember that you’re there to steer them in developing the calendar, not determine the dates.

Brainstorming: On each distribution date have the editor-in-chief lead the staff through a brainstorming session (based on beat sheets) for the next issue. After brainstorming is complete, have staff members choose the top 3 stories they would be interested in writing.

Story assignments: Sit down with your editor-in-chief and go through the brainstorming list. Together determine which stories will be most impactful for your school. From there allow the editor-in-chief to make the story assignments. Before he/she goes over the story assignments with the staff, be sure to have one last glance.

Google Drive: Google Drive is a great way for students to collaborate on stories, make revisions automatically, have documents automatically save, eliminate paper, get rid of excuses for “leaving a story at home”, and share feedback.

Reward your staff: At the conclusion of each issue have staff members vote on categories such as: “best story”, “best photo”, “best layout”, “most inspirational”, etc. Have your editor-in-chief count up the votes, print out certificates and announce the winners. Or do a simple “pat on the back” activity (Give each student a pad of sticky notes. Have them write something nice about others in the class or congratulate others on something they did for newspaper. Then they give it to the other students by “patting them on the back.”)

Remember that you’re the adviser, you’re there to advise, so allow the students to run the newspaper, but make sure you put some organization to the process. Good luck!