Students, advisers attend 65th annual conference
About 600 scholastic journalists and their teachers attended the New England Scholastic Press Association’s 65th annual conference at Boston University’s College of Communication on Friday, May 3.
Among the highlights of the 43 sessions on the program was a keynote speech by Brian McGrory, editor of the Boston Globe. Other sessions ranged from photojournalism to news writing to what it is really like to major in journalism.
College of Communication faculty and students, national and regional professionals, and high school magazine, newsmagazine, newspaper, online publication and yearbook advisers and staff members spoke and facilitated sessions.
Two advisers from Wayland High School won the Robert Baram Award for their work elevating scholastic journalism.
Along with the results of All-New England and Special Achievement contests, the Board of Judges released a list of 65 suggestions for ways that staffs can improve their work. Click here to view them in the print edition of the newsletter (pdf).
Boston Globe’s editor cites bond with readers in keynote
Brian McGrory had just steered the Boston Globe through two intense weeks when he gave his keynote speech to about 600 scholastic journalists and their teachers.
Praising Globe staff members for their coverage of the Marathon bombings, he noted that they walked toward the explosions and the victims.
“We are the local paper,” he said. “We had victims who are community members.”
McGrory, who had become the Globe’s editor in chief five months before his talk in Morse Auditorium Friday, May 3, began by talking about himself as a child.
“All I wanted to do was write for a newspaper,“ he said.
When his 5th-grade classmates organized an election and ran for office, McGrory started his own newspaper and criticized the election.
Now, working at the Globe is the “fulfillment of a dream,” he said.
Before he joined the Globe in 1989, he worked for Quincy’s Patriot-Ledger and the New Haven Register.
After covering the South Shore and the Boston mayoralty campaign, he became the Globe’s roving national reporter, writing about topics ranging from sea lions in Seattle to train bandits in New Mexico to tax renegades in Montana.
“I’ve been in every state in the country on the Globe’s dime,” he said.
Recalling his efforts to interview George Bush, then governor of Texas, he said Bush didn’t return phone calls so he went to Texas and followed him around.
Bush finally gave him a ride to the airport, and they flew to Austin chatting all the way. Bush showed McGrory pictures of his father and gave him a tour of the governor’s mansion.
“I went back and wrote about Bush as a very regular person,” McGrory said.
Subsequently assigned to cover President Bill Clinton, McGrory said he especially saw what it meant to be “given license to hold powerful people accountable.”
In 1998, McGrory moved back to Boston and became a metro columnist.
“When I first began, it was cable TV that seemed to mean the end of newspapers,” he said. “Then the internet would mean that newspapers were irrelevant.
“We’re not irrelevant. Information is coming at you every waking hour.
“News is in your pocket and on your iPad. But so much of it is peoples’ rants for money.
“A good newspaper knows the community it covers.
“What newspapers do is form a connection with their readers.”
McGrory said it is particularly rewarding “when you have a story that gives voice to someone who gets what they deserve.”
Robert Baram Award goes to two Wayland advisers
Two outstanding journalism advisers from Wayland High School in Wayland, Mass., received Robert Baram Awards at this year’s conference.
Because of Mary Barber and Janet Karman’s steady, patient, collegial and courageous support for their students on the Wayland Student Press Network, the scholastic press in this region and elsewhere has raised its sights and its standards.
The citation reads: “With the Robert Baram Award, the New England Scholastic Press Association honors a distinguished adviser from this region who has helped students raise their sights and their standards in the practice of school journalism.
“The award is named for Robert Baram, founder and for 46 years the executive director of the Association.
“Consideration for the award is based on an adviser’s contributions to the cause of ethical, thorough and articulate scholastic journalism in the adviser’s school and community; and support for school journalists in all facets of their efforts to present credible and useful material to their audience.”
Both advisers came to Wayland High with impressive qualifications.
Mary Barber, Wayland High’s technology specialist, has advanced degrees from Syracuse, B.C., and Bridgewater, where she majored in instructional technology.
Janet Karman, in the English department, majored in English at Cornell, then received a JD at Boston University’s School of Law and has a master’s from Simmons.
Eight years ago, a Wayland freshman, Robin Kim, approached his English teacher, Janet Karman, with an idea he thought would bring the high school and the greater Wayland community together: a student-run website that would inform and entertain the high school students.
With no funding and no journalism class, and with few models at the high school level, the three launched the Wayland Student Press Network.
Within one year, WSPN was the source for student information at the school.
Late nights and an arduous learning curve brought a Pacemaker award from National Scholastic Press Association in the site’s first year, and a Webby Award in the second. (They’ve gone on to win Gold Crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and All-New England Awards as well.)
The administration agreed to fund a journalism class, and class members fully embraced the freedom granted by the Massachusetts student free expression statute.
So in supporting Wayland Student Press Network, both faculty members found that they had to educate themselves and their administrators about the rights and responsibilities of their student journalists.
They also wrote grants to raise funds for cameras and video equipment, helped with fundraising and advertising ideas, and supported new approaches including student-journalist created videos, audio slideshows and blogs.
Especially important to the New England Scholastic Press Association, both advisers have helped support Wayland’s editors in the teaching of other editors and staff members.
WSPN editors have given sessions at NESPA and national conventions, and have served as a resource for many other high schools in New England.