What is Journalism Like?


Welcome to Journalism! (Photo Illustrated by Evelyn Le.)

Evelyn Le, Contributor

(IMPORTANT NOTICE: There is a strong possibility that there will NOT be a Journalism class for the next school year. If that is the case, then this article’s purpose is just to inform and entertain interested readers about the process of publishing and what the class is like. This news was given out on late notice, so some areas of this article will seem to imply that YOU, as the reader, will eventually be doing these things next year, though you possibly will not. Apologies for this unexpected news!)

Journalism (n): the activity or job of collecting, writing, and editing news stories for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio.

That’s what you do in Beatty Middle School’s journalism elective class: you find a newsworthy topic that can be put into our online newspaper, The Bronco Bulletin. The 2021-2022 Journalism class was only 1 period, which is quite a small number compared to other electives, so not many people in our school know the process from getting an idea to publishing the final draft on our website. If you’re a student who was interested and signed up for Journalism next year, here’s everything you need to know about becoming a journalist for our school.

The Schedule

Though the very first few days may have a different agenda, normally, the first thing you’ll do after arriving to the class is a warmup. You will receive a notebook to write your answers in. There are 3 different forms of the warm-up:

1. Question with a paragraph response.
2. Find the synonym and antonym of a word, then apply it into a sentence. (You will be tested on these terms eventually.)
3. Correct the grammatically-incorrect paragraph.

After the warm-up, you will turn and discuss with your table partners, and then you can choose to share out with the class. On the first day, you’ll likely review the syllabus together or do an activity that helps you get to know others better. On a normal schedule however, you will either continue working on your article or start peer reviewing your classmate’s stories. You’ll do this for the rest of the period until class ends.

What’s the Process of Publishing an Article?

You’ll have to go through many steps to reach the final draft! (Photo taken by: Evelyn Le.)

First, you’ll need an article idea. It is recommended that you find an idea as soon as possible, so you’ll have a better idea of what you’re working with, and also so that your topic won’t be picked by someone else; it’s first come, first serve. You can choose from an event that has, is, or will happen at our school. Another choice is to look at a monthly holiday calendar. I recommend National Today’s Holiday Calendar. It contains every little holiday and celebration happening every day in the month you are looking for, and also contains month-long celebrations (Ex. Asian American & Pacific Islander Hertiage Month, Black History Month, Mental Health Awareness Month, etc.) You can also write about events that have occurred recently (wars, movements, rallies, etc.) All of these types of topics still have to be school-appropriate and should be considered newsworthy.

Next, you have plan out what you’re going to write about. You’ll be given out a Submission Form sheet, in which you will write down your idea, possible headline, things to talk about, and if they contain any News Elements (more on this later.) You’ll turn in this form for Mrs Young to go over so she also knows what to expect of you.

Then, you’ll have to start your draft. You have the choice of choosing to co-author with another classmate, or doing your work on your own. If you are co-authoring, it is highly recommended that you use Google Docs, since you can share and edit documents with other classmates. Google Docs and Notability are the best options to write your article BEFORE you publish them on the website. Your very first article may be very short, or not very in depth, and that’s expected. As the year progresses, your articles will become longer, more interesting, and more impactful.

For your first article, you should be sure to:

• Make your article at least one paragraph.
• Add a picture.
• Have an interesting topic.

For later articles, your articles should be:
• Several paragraphs long with subheadings for different sections.
• At least 2-3 pictures.
• Grabs the reader’s attention
• Longer and more in depth.

Once you finish drafting, editing, and reviewing your article, it’s time to get behind the scenes and publish! Mrs Young will give everyone a username and password, and once that’s done, you’re in! The site may seem very confusing at first, but here is a simple version of how to navigate.

The steps to adding a story on the Bronco Bulletin admin page. (Photo credit: Evelyn Le.)

First get onto the BMS Newsite. Scroll all the way down until you see the black bar where you’ll see Home, Staff, About, and Contact Us. Below that will be very, very small words, one of which being Log In. Sign in with the information you were given, and then you will see a task bar on the left. To add a story, look for the pushpin icon labeled “Stories”. Click on that. Now, look under the same pushpin icon. You will see Add Story. Click on that, and you’re ready to copy and paste!

Steps to adding a photo. (Photo credit: Evelyn Le.)

To add a photo, stay on the same page. There will be an “Add Media” button with an icon of a camera and music note. After clicking the button, a page will pop up. The tab will say Media Library, and if any of your classmates have added photos, they will show up here. To add a photo, switch the tab to Upload Files, then select a file. Once your photo is added, scroll down on the right side to add a caption and a description.

After you copy & paste the article and add all your desired photos, scroll down and look near the right. You will see a blue button that says “Submit for Review.” Mrs. Young needs to see and approve of your story before it can be published. This means your article won’t be on the site right away.

What Happens After Publishing?

It’s not time to think of your next idea right after you finish publishing your previous one! After every article, you will fill out a “Reflections” paper, in which you’ll answer questions such as, “How was this article different from your previous ones?” And “How can we as a class help make the next article even better?”

After the reflections paper, it’s time to do a Class Circle. All the desks are moved to the walls of the rooms, and all the chairs are placed in a circle, in which everyone sits in one. The circle alternates between going clockwise and counterclockwise, and everyone must participate, taking turns to speak when the Talking Baton is passed around.

The starting and ending question is normally “How are you feeling right now?” Questions in between vary from asking about recent and next articles, or lighthearted, fun topics like, “What’s your favorite song?” Or “Where would you go on your dream vacation?” The Circle Discussions are a way of loosening things up after a 3-week long period crammed with editing and writing, and they also help students get to know each other a little better, whether that be having a shared favorite movie, or helping each other reset the tables to their original positions.

What Will You Learn?

If you looked at the very first articles in our school website, you will notice that most were very short and many were without pictures. The improvement between September’s article and May’s articles is overwhelming positive. From no pictures to several, a few sentences to many paragraphs, and from plain, bland words to long, detailed stories.

The difference and improvement between the first and last article over the span of 9 months is immense and clearly visible. (Photo Credit: Evelyn Le.)

Publishing articles won’t be the only thing you’ll do in Journalism. You also have to learn about many things involved in a newspaper, including:
• Interviewing
• Quotations/citations
• Features of a newspaper
• Photo usage/copyright
• Perspectives (3rd person, 2nd person, 1st person.)
• Rights of student journalists
• Writing introductions/leads
• Active/passive voice
• Obituary writing (although these won’t be in the newspaper, you’ll be learning how to write one anyway.)
• And more!

Of course, you won’t learn all of these right away. Slowly, you’ll be taught each of these important attributes in newspapers over the course of the entire year. For example, you’ll learn how to interview people with a monthly assignment called “Beat Sheet.” You’re assigned a specific club, and you have to ask the leader or advisor of that club some basic questions. This is to help you know how to talk to people and prepare questions. At some point, almost everyone will have to interview someone for their article. You will also often take notes, on paper or on your iPad, about different attributes of newspapers. Along with note taking, you also will do activities involving what you have recently learned right afterwards. You will incorporate these newly learned topics into your articles to make them better and more improved from your previous one.

Journalism is a very engaging and fun elective. Like in all electives our school offers, Jounalism will help teach aspiring students new things that will help them with finding their passions and guide them through courses that may show up in future studies, high school for example. To become a journalist does not mean just writing stories for a newspaper; it’s also about expressing yourself through words, and knowing that you have every right to assert what you believe. However, you still must be able to respect other people’s opinions and personal space as well. There is an infinite amount of inspiration you can incorporate into your next feature; will you choose to write a highly factual and informative report, or a controversial, high-strung, opinionated piece? That may have to be the decision you’ll make when you walk in and prepare your next idea for your best article yet.