Here you can explore what makes me a fighting contestant for Journalist of the Year.
In my years of editorship, I've been forced to learn the ins and outs of newspaper design. A tedious task, design takes a lot of time to perfect, and, while I wouldn't say my design is perfect, it's definitely improved over my three years on staff. I spend a lot of time on my spreads and pages to ensure the most logical and pleasing layout possible. Part of this responsibility is creating infographics and visuals to fill out pages that don't have enough content to make them visually appealing. One of my favorite spreads was a chicken tender comparison. I had to create four infographics to highlight the important factors of each chicken tender restaurant. I also broke barriers in my publication by adding color behind the text, something The Register doesn't do much, but that I thought would make the paper look more lively and modern. It was tedious work, but that spread won an honorable mention in newspaper layout, and it's one I'm most proud of. I'm also often in charge of the photo essay on the back page of the paper. One of my favorite photo spreads was one created for the beginning of basketball season. Last year, our boys team lost the state championship, and we felt we had to cover their journey back to victory by highlighting the first game of the season. I placed a mix of action shots and crowd reactions to capture the universality that this game had; it wasn't just important for the team. It was important for the whole school.
I take my job as an editor very seriously. Yes, the staff has a copy editor, but when deadlines get close, I often find myself editing my staff's articles. Copy editing is a career I could see myself going into. I'm always the one to edit my friend's essays, so often, in fact, that I've considered charging for it. I'm lucky in the sense that most of my staff are competent writers, but alterations still have to be made. There have been times when a story needs to basically be rewritten or just given back to the writer who's told to do it again.
The Register staff sells advertisements twice a year. For four years, I have consistently made sales. I've found that the most important aspect in sales is connection. I started selling to the Omaha Bicycle Company during my freshman Intro to Journalism class. The owner was a family friend and had majored in journalism in college. I sold ads to her for three years before the business closed. I knew that fall was not a peak time for bike sales and tried to be aware of that, understanding when the business didn't have enough profit margin to buy an ad one semester. I also sold many ads to Urbane Salon and Day Spa, especially during second semester when advertisements were targeted towards prom. I sold ads through one of the receptionists there and made a point of knowing the position I put her in. She had to contact corporate to buy any ads, so I'd always contact her first to give her time. I also created all the ads I sold.
Law & Ethics
The unit of Intro to Journalism that made me fall in love with the field was law and ethics. The ethics of journalism appeared so different from ethics anywhere else; it was entirely honest, no personal opinion allowed whatsoever. As Editor-in-Chief, I encourage my staff to write pretty much whatever they want. Recently, a junior at our school was arrested for first-degree murder. A pair of staffers decided to cover the story. My only initial advice to them was to speak delicately to the mother of the arrested boy, as having two teenagers attack you about your accused son would be very disturbing. These writers' series of articles have involved a lot of contacting the SPLC. I've made more calls to the Student Press Law Center this year than I have during my whole time on staff. They've been there to help with everything from publishing the police mugshot to using the boy's real name in the story. I know that the "real world" of journalism is much different from student press, especially since Nebraska is a Hazelwood state, but I hope that these experiences have prepared me for more legal and ethically involved stories I may work with in the future.
During my junior year, I was an Executive Editor for The Register. I looked up the senior editors a lot; I wanted to be just like them. But, the more I watched them, the more I realized they weren't ideal leaders. They had skewed morals, and when it came down to it, they weren't good role models. In all leadership positions, I try to be someone the underclassmen can look up to because I know I looked up to my leaders when I was younger. I make it a point in my leadership to remind the staff how much I appreciate them. After all, there would be no newspaper if it weren't for them. Even in the last days before the paper goes to print, when I'm stressed and waiting on late articles, I always say, "I love and appreciate all of you," after our update meeting. We like to have food days with the staff twice or thrice a semester. Everyone will bring something that fits the theme, and we'll just sit and talk and eat. In December, we'll do a White Elephant, and in May, the seniors will write goodbye speeches. I truly love and appreciate everyone on my staff, even the ones that never get their work in by the deadline (or at all).
As a writer, newsgathering is one of the most important aspects of what I do. I've filled more than two reporter's notebooks in the last two years. I also record all of my interviews. However, I don't always trust my technology, and those written notes come in handy, such as when my phone stopped recording my interviews and I didn't realize it until I went to write the article. I've quickly had to become very comfortable with going up to strangers on the street and asking them questions, like when I covered the St. Patrick's Day Parade or the Women's March. My principal and I have become very comfortable with each other after many, many interviews with him over the years. I've also been lucky enough to interview a journalist for the Omaha World-Herald about his new book. Like all good reporter's notebooks, it's pure chicken-scratch, but it's good enough for me.
Since my beginning in journalism, my pet peeve has been a lack of news literacy. I consider news literacy to not just be knowing what's going on in the world, but to be smart enough to get that information from many reliable sources. Since freshman year, I have bought an online subscription to the Omaha World-Herald and the New York Times. I also get notifications on my phone for Tweets from the Associated Press. In this era of computers in everyone's pockets, I believe there's no reason to be uneducated in world events. I've had teachers tell me Twitter is a bad way of getting my news. I think Twitter is one of the best ways for young people to get educated.
I am, and have always been, so proud of my writing. My writing is what has won me awards. I've written everything from movie reviews to sports features. I honestly don't know how to properly describe my writing without letting you read it. The button will relocate you to my staff page on The Register website. That holds all of my writing going back to freshman year. Please, take time to read a couple articles. You can't imagine how proud I am of my writing and of how I've improved.