How to produce a high school newspaper
I sat nervously in front of the classroom while my hands shook uncontrollably. I sat and
watched each member of my staff walk into the classroom one by one. Lumps formed in my
throat as I tried to swallow them into my churning stomach. These were the chosen students
who were going to depend on me, their editor-in-chief, for guidance and assistance. All of a
sudden, a piercing ringing of the bell indicated that it was time for me to begin. I was the person
in charge of nineteen fellow peers. I wasnít sure what to expect while hundreds of questions
raced through my mind: What if they donít listen to me? What if Iím not experienced enough?
Can I just forget about this and go home? The first day of class was the most nerve wracking
and scariest day I have ever had to experience during the course of my short-lived newspaper
career. Coordinating a high school newspaper staff and creating a newspaper every three weeks
is a lot of fun, but on the other hand, it involves a lot frustration. Much goes into producing a
high school newspaper, but most important is the ability to manage and organize a group of
people within an allotted amount of time. Patience is also crucial in order to understand and
help other staff members. However, when itís completed, the satisfaction is its own reward.
Before understanding the entire newspaper production process, there are a few key
people whose duties rely heavily on it. The editor-in-chief is the actual ďbig cheeseĒ or ďhead
honcho.Ē As the editor-in-chief, it was my job to organize and lead the class during every issue
to produce a newspaper. This stressful position required good leadership skills, people skills,
and production skills since the other staff members depended on me, the editor-in-chief, to
direct them. The advisor is usually a teacher who doesnít actual run the class, but advises the
editor-in-chief when needed. Section editors have the duty of laying out each page in their
section. Some section editors have assistants to help them, but most donít because they usually
only have two to three pages.
Reporters are the glue in this process. Everything relies on their story and the deadlines they
meet. Their main duty is to meet the deadlines. If a reporter misses a deadline, or they are late,
then the entire production process gets held back. For instance, if a story is not ready, the
section editor canít layout the page without a story; the photographers canít size the pictures
onto a page without a story on it; the advisor canít final that page until its completed with a
picture and story on it; and finally, the editor-in-chief canít take the paper to press without the
pages finaled. So, everything that happens revolves around the reporter and his/her story. The
second duty of a reporter is to write a story interesting enough so that the readers will read it.
There is no point in writing a story just to take up space. If that were the case, then the efforts
(of the entire class) would be meaningless. Photographers also have many duties. They are
responsible for taking and printing all the pictures that will be placed in the newspaper. The
pictures must be visible and exciting to attract the readerís attention to the story. Sometimes,
they have to take twenty or thirty pictures of one athletic event to get that one good action shot.
In order to follow the procedures of newspaper production, there are a few terms and
newspaper lingo to understand. Dummy sheets are the sheets of paper where section editors
design the pre-layout of their pages. Each section editor is responsible for about two to three
pages. To crop a picture means to cut a picture or clip art in the appropriate proportions to the
picture box where it is to be placed. Copy is the actual text. All the cartoon-like pictures or
hand-drawn pictures are the clip art designs. Gutters are the columns between the text that must
remain empty. When a story or layout is finaled, the reporter has been through the process of
getting it approved by the editor-in-chief, advisor,