From photography to finding story ideas, October Press Day offered countless learning opportunities
By Keith Langford Jr.
YSU journalism student
Journalism students from a dozen high schools throughout the tri-county area participated in Press Day Oct. 12 at Youngstown State University.
The event is designed to give information to the students so they can improve their school newspapers or yearbooks. The students are challenged to devise ways to improve these publications.
This year’s version of Press Day began with a presentation on why high school journalism matters by Mark Goodman, chairman of scholastic journalism for Kent State University. He discussed how students who are involved in high school journalism score higher on an assortment of standardized tests. This also leads to success in college. Eventually, the skills these students developed in high school journalism helped them in their adult careers, even those not involved in journalism.
The students then attended various sessions involving crucial elements of the newspaper or yearbook process.
In all, there were 15 topics offered in three sessions by 19 journalism professionals. Sessions were conducted in Kilcawley Center and Smith Hall.
Topics ranged from opinion and column writing to the essentials of journalism, such as copyediting and AP style. The first two sessions offered information specifically about journalism and yearbook endeavors, with the third designed for brainstorming by the students, advisors and session presenters.
Press Day ended with some thoughts by Tim Francisco, YSU journalism faculty member, and Josh Stipanovich, YSU journalism student and editor-in-chief of The Jambar.
“I enjoyed sports. I enjoyed writing. Fortunately, I was able to find that niche here at Youngstown State,” Stipanovich said about why he chose journalism.
News Photography with Bill Lewis
One of the more intriguing sessions during Press Day, Oct. 12 at Youngstown State University, was the one offered by Bill Lewis, a news photographer at The Vindicator.
Lewis shared many photographs he has taken through the years. These ranged from sporting matches to water gun fights.
The trick to getting good pictures at a sporting event, be it baseball, boxing or football, is to take a lot of shots. Of those, you may get two or three pictures good enough for the print edition of The Vindicator.
The venues for these events also pose problems. Lewis said some stadiums, especially those at high schools, have poor lighting for photography.
Sometimes, unethical photographers use unusual means to get the “perfect shot" - a practice that he says ethical photographers must never do.
Why I chose journalism?
As part of Press Day, media professionals and high school journalism students offered their reasons for getting into the business.
“It wasn’t for the money,” said Joe Scalzo, sports writer for The Vindicator. “It wasn’t for the hours. When I was doing journalism, it was fun and I just happened to be good at it.”
“I chose journalism because I enjoy expressing my opinions and hearing others’,” said British Adams, a senior at Liberty High.
“I’ve always liked being in people’s business,” said Lamar Salter, managing editor of The Jambar. “I’m not interesting myself but I like interesting things.”
“I chose journalism because you can take life experiences and put them on paper,” said Merissa Crowl, a junior at Mineral Ridge.
“I had a passion for writing. I had a passion for current events, and just a general passion for writing. I always enjoyed writing,” said Rick Logan, news editor at The Vindicator.
“I was not a very good student in high school academically, but I was fanatic about sports,” said Guy Coviello, managing editor of The Tribune Chronicle. “I wrote sports for the school newspaper … I decided I was going to be a sports writer.”
Planning your paper
After formal presentations during Press Day, high school students had an opportunity to talk about their publications.
Tom Pittman, YSU journalism instructor, and Nick Young, design editor for The Jambar, led the “Planning Your Paper” session for student working on Boardman High School’s yearbook, The Crier.
This, as well as the other planning sessions, focused on ways to improve their yearbook or newspaper for the coming year.
Pittman began by asking the yearbook staff how they chose the stories they would write about. Then he challenged them to develop ways to make the yearbook more memorable.
This year, the Boardman Crier staff wants to create more fixed. Many students said deadlines were not enforced strictly enough last year and some pages didn’t get done on time. They don’t want that history to be repeated this year.
Another big issue for the Boardman yearbook staff is financial. Although economists say the country has come out of a recession, the yearbook needs to generate substantial money through advertising. One of the problems they face is that it costs a business less to run an ad in a $5 football program than it does to run one in a $70 yearbook. Although the high school has nearly 2,000 students, only a quarter of them bought yearbooks last year and 75 percent of them were seniors.
One of the reasons for declining purchases might be the cost of the yearbook. The more ads that are sold will ultimately result in a lower price to students. This is a problem the yearbook staff will try to work on this.