Ogden column: In search of high school journalists

JR Ogden
Published: January 19 2014 | 5:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:21 am in

I hope you enjoy todayís story by Monticello senior Craig Welter as much as I do.

I like it not only because itís a wonderful, well-written tale, but also because it exemplifies what our high school journalism program is all about.

This program isnít simply about taking the great work these students do and publishing it at www.IowaPrepSports.com or in The Gazette, although that is a big part of it. Itís more about promoting and showcasing talented students such as Welter and, hopefully, ushering a few into journalism careers. Two of our high school journalists have taken the plunge already by working with their town newspapers.

When I visit high schools, one of the first things I tell students is I want to help them become better writers and, if desired, assist them on a path to a career in media. If nothing else, I want them to become consumers of news.

We live in a fast-paced world of gadgets that, at times, can be overwhelming. It may be a time of uncertainty for some print publications, but itís a wonderful and exciting time for young journalists.

A story no longer has to sit on a printed page with a photo or two, a graphic or an information ďglance.Ē It can live on a website with photo galleries, video, audio and instant interaction with readers.

That is part of what we are trying to do with high school journalists, letting them know that journalism and media remain important.

Now I just need to get to more schools.

January has been a slow and frustrating month. The only trip planned is a Jan. 30 venture to Decorah with a stop in Independence along the way.

We have published stories and photos from more than 70 students ó including a whopping 26 from Cedar Rapids Xavier alone ó and have had several firsts this school year, including the first stories from East Buchanan and Iowa Valley high schools and our first paid high school correspondent.

But we want more visits and more opportunities to help interested high school journalists.

I have yet to visit several schools in our circulation area in the three years Iíve been doing this, schools such as Belle Plaine, Benton Community, Center Point-Urbana, Vinton-Shellsburg and many more.

You donít have to have a school paper. Iíve talked to yearbook groups and a variety of writing classes.

Help me help your students by showcasing their incredible work or by helping to open a few doors.

Email me at jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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