Friday, May 3, 2002
There's no business like newspaper business
The editors sat in the middle of the room, discussing the upcoming newspaper issue, scheduling the available writers. "We really should get others to do some writing. We've done a lot," suggested one editor. "What should we cover?" said another, reclining on the top of a table. "What about family issues, like divorce?" asked an editor sitting backwards on a chair. "Do we really want to discuss that?" asked the editor on the table. This could have been the Monday morning meeting of the managing editors of The Carlisle Mosquito, but instead it was a planning meeting for The Bite, the Carlisle middle school student-run newspaper. Though it isn't a professional paper, the editors and reporters of The Bite do many of the same jobs as are done at the Mosquito.
Developing story ideas
Newspaper advisor and middle school teacher David Zuckerman asked the students if they had issues to discuss. They brainstormed on random subjects for feature stories such as the seventh grade play, the influence of media on student behavior, school uniforms and the student council. Kate Erickson, journeyman editor, suggested a review of the seventh-grade play, including pictures. "Mr. Tate took many, we can borrow his," she added. Zuckerman suggested they begin to write down their ideas to organize themselves. Features editor Elizabeth Price began a list, jotting furiously as ideas were called out. Sports editor Devon Jeffers pointed out spring was a hard time to concentrate and wondered if that would make an interesting article. "We could do a poll," she suggested. Layout editor Allison Stephens opened the topic of the advantages and disadvantages of a preschool through grade-eight campus, which started a long discussion. "Are you in favor of that kind of school?" asked Zuckerman. He pointed out the proposal in town to separate the school into two campuses. "Oh, oh, I just had a light bulb," exclaimed Jeffers, and discusses her idea about separate schools for lower and upper grades. "You'd have to do some research," said Zuckerman, "and maybe talk to Superintendent Fox-Melanson." The students discussed researching stories, and agreed their reporters needed to do articles with depth. Zuckerman left the room, letting the students work out their ideas without his influence.
Assignments and schedule
After more talk on other feature articles such as the police blotter and the band, the editors gathered around Price to review the list, and discussed writing assignments. Editors-in-chief Laura Ferraro and Hannah Roberts pointed out the need to act as back-up writers if the students they assign fail to complete their assignment. They plan to ask for more involvement from seventh-grade writers. They decided on a first draft date of April 26 and adjourned their meeting as the lunch period ended.
After the meeting, Zuckerman asked me if this was what I expected, and I told him I was impressed by the scope of the students' ideas and their approach to organizing the work. The next issue of The Bite should be available in May. Perhaps the Mosquito could call on The Bite staff for some extra help!
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito