2012-03-15 / Schools
Young journalists cover the high school beat
A newspaper should deliver new information and good insight that readers can’t get anywhere else, say Paige Yamron and Alison Roth, co-editors-in-chief of the Calabasas Courier, Calabasas High School’s newspaper.
The two high school seniors coordinate assignments for 38 journalism students at Calabasas High. They also oversee design and marketing for the monthly publication, which covers news, sports and entertainment, and includes opinion pieces and features about students, cultural events and businesses.
“We try to find people and places that aren’t really wellknown, or we take a different angle,” Paige said.
Journalism adviser Patti Harris said the Courier’s staff writers, editors and photographers represent the best of Calabasas High. They write thought-provoking articles and perceptive columns, take vibrant photographs and work together to create an attractive newspaper, she said.
This school year, Paige and Alison introduced a new system of checks and balances to keep the class organized and improve the quality of the paper.
The class begins each month with pitch sessions to find and develop ideas for articles and photos. Staff writers are required to turn in several drafts to make sure their stories meet CHS Courier standards and deadlines.
In addition to adding a photo editor to manage assignments and keep photographers on track, Courier staff members revamped their website to broaden their reach.
The website includes exclusive stories and photos as well as music and videos, said chief online webmaster Ellie Kalatzi.
“People find our articles informative. . . . We’ve come a long way in what the website means. The school is recognizing it. It’s becoming a bigger deal,” she said.
Harris, who became an English teacher after a 25-year career in the financial services industry, said her journalism students have great work ethics.
“I got to know the value of these kids, who are so motivated. I’m here and there’s candy, water and pretzels, and I take care of them. But the most important thing is that they know I’ve got their back,” she said.
The newspaper also has a marketing team that solicits ads from businesses to offset expenses for computers, software and printing.
“ The paper is completely funded by the marketing. It makes us an independent student voice,” Harris said.
On a recent Thursday afternoon, a group of students gathered around computers in the back of Harris’ classroom to lay out the March edition of the Cou- rier using InDesign, an industry standard software used by graphic artists and publishers.
This month the paper is trying a new design that integrates advertisements throughout the publication.
“Before they were all on the back page. This is more attractive to advertisers,” Paige said.
Paige plans to study communications and pre-med. She volunteers at the California Wildlife Center and with the National Charity League.
Alison said she will study visual design. Outside of school, she works at a math tutoring center and volunteers with United In Harmony, a mentoring organization that hosts camps and field trips for homeless and impoverished children.
Both girls said the leadership and communication skills they acquired in the journalism program will serve them well.
“I feel that being in journalism has helped me so much as a person in the working environment and with interviews. These are life skills I couldn’t have developed anywhere else,” Alison said.
While Paige focuses on news and details, Alison said she prefers the creative aspects of journalism.
“We complement each other. We both bring really different dynamics,” Alison said.
Courier staff writer Allie Barnes said her involvement with the newspaper has allowed her to learn more about her school and become more involved in campus activities.
“I also have seen my writing skills improve. The different styles give you a wider range of writing skills,” she said.
According to Paige, the biggest stories in the March edition of the Calabasas Courier pertain to the girls’ varsity soccer and boys’ varsity basketball teams, which both went into the playoffs. The boys’ team won the CIF finals on March 1.
“The stories will include details about the athletes and their feelings about the season,” Paige told The Acorn in late February.
“We have ASB (Associated Student Body) promoting the basketball games, but no one really knows what’s going on in the player’s head. That’s where we come in. We give readers the insight that they don’t always get by just watching a game. You’re going to learn how it feels going on the court.”
The Courier is distributed throughout Calabasas High and at other locations in the city, such as the library. The newspaper’s website is www.chscourier.com.