Last March, the Highland Echo news center hosted a journalism and photography info session with local Cub Scout pack 1804. When the scouts attended, the Echo staff members were exceptionally delighted because it was their first time hosting such a program. Since the boys had such a fun and educational experience, honorary committee pack member, Elizabeth Reagan soon arranged for their second visit which took place on Monday, Oct. 20.
A total of 15 scouts of varying ranks, based on course difficulty and age group, attended the presentation. The pack that visited the newspaper this fall was mostly comprised of scouts ranked as Tigers (first-graders) or Wolves (second-graders).
During the session, each Echo editor spoke about his or her particular job and the responsibilities of a newspaper editor. Virginia Johnson, photo editor, definitely captured the scout’s attention, discussing various concepts such as layout and aesthetic appeal.
Johnson began by explaining how she goes about selecting pictures to go with the journalists’ stories and then how to artfully arrange these pictures in the newspaper. She also gave an example of how to discern between what makes a good or bad photo by projecting side-by-side high quality and grainy/obscure images onto the screen for the scouts to see. The boys were even allowed to take pictures on one of the Echo’s DSLR cameras. Johnson helped by going around the room and showing them how to focus, zoom, crop, etc. The scouts were enthralled and even snapped several photos of the delighted staff.
Next, assistant editors, Ashlyn Kittrell and Chase Condrone discussed their roles in the newspaper and the process of editing stories. Kittrell stated that she is in charge of monitoring what stories get published the news and art and entertainment sections of the paper.
Similarly, Condrone explained that he is in charge of the features and perspectives and described what kind of stories get published in his sections of the paper. Both editors clarified the importance of asking key questions such as who, what where, when and why before writing an article in order to gain fundamental information necessary for a report. They also mentioned that one of best ways to gather facts for a newspaper article is to interview someone who was present during the action.
Joshua Loomis, editor-in-chief, elaborated on the fundamentals of what it takes to be a journalist and talked about news writing. Additionally, he described what type of stories get published in various sections of the paper and asked questions in order to teach the scouts about the basic requirements of news articles.
Since Shawn Richards, web editor, could not attend the meeting, Loomis also explained to the scouts what Richard’s role consisted of and explained how the online version of the paper functioned, pointing out all of its differences in comparison with the paper copy. Loomis also mentioned how Richards usually monitors the Echo’s online publicity based on number of article views.
Lastly, Arianna Hansen, graphic editor, used the metaphor of a giant puzzle to explain the task of preparing a paper’s layout. She discussed how she chooses the font for the paper’s logo, the inclusion of advertisements and the publishing process. Hansen told the scouts how she is in charge of assembling and pulling all the pieces together to create a full-fledged newspaper.
Knowing that children are most responsive and engaged when entertained, the Echo staff tried their best to make sure that the lessons on media remained educational while also interactive. In order to do this, Kim Trevathan, faculty advisor for the Echo and Assistant Professor of Writing/Communication, handed out the latest version of the Highland Echo for the scouts to take home and also brought in homemade chocolate chip cookies for everyone to enjoy.
When asked what special, applicable skills the Cub Scouts learned during their visit, Cubmaster, John Grant, explained that “ the boys gained important life skills and values such as how to adjust to new experiences of varying difficulty as well as how to accomplish various challenges and tasks as a pack.” By attending the Highland Echo to learn about writing and communication, the boys each earned their “Go and See It” award for visiting a television station, radio station or newspaper office.
Once it was time to go, to show their appreciation, the scouts handed every member of the staff hand-drawn thank you cards and writing utensils as gifts.
Looking into the future, the staff of the Highland Echo would like to continue creating more experiential opportunities for young students who possess an interest in the newspaper by developing their writing skills, providing guidance in acquiring a voice for their community, and lastly, encouraging active involvement in local and/or school newspapers.