I had always dreamed of having a school newspaper, with articles about school policies, informative articles written by my school-mates, art/literature segments, sports segments,study tips, playlists, reviews and just everything you would expect a school newspaper to have. The idea of being part of a big responsibility such as this always excited me, so in grade 11, when a couple of my friends and I decided to make this vision come true, I was thrilled.
Fountainhead has never had a student-led school newspaper before, and introducing this concept to my school, alongside my friends, was a long but very rewarding process. The school newspaper is a great front for a lot of aspiring journalists, photographers, web-designers and graphic designers to engage in an active project and experience these jobs in a realistic setting.
I was one of the Editors and co-founder of this Newspaper; the job of the editorial board was to first layout our basic ideas and present this concept to the school, once approved, we sent up a google form to other high school students in Fountainhead, to find suitable writer, web-designers, graphic designers and photographers to put our plan to action. We had mini interviews with the applicants and shortlisted the ones we thought were the most sincere and eligible for the job. Our first focus was to collaborate with the chosen web-designers and plan the layout of our website. This was a taxing and lengthy process, but regular meetings and constant communication helped us get through it. Then we opened an instagram account for our newspaper, so that more FS students and probably students from other schools would also become aware of this project and we can reach a greater number of readers. Next, we began brainstorming ideas for articles segments etc. along with the rest of the team. Once the newspaper was up and running, as editors, we were to go through all articles and content to be posted, edit it- give comments etc.
Despite being editors, we were all interested in the job of writing as well, so we too wrote articles or pieces for the newspaper and got them reviewed by our teacher editors.
LO1: Identify their own strengths and develop areas for personal growth.
Managing a school newspaper is a massive responsibility, not something I can say I have done before. The experience allowed me to assess and evaluate my own strengths and weaknesses as an individual in great depth.
I was confident in my creative abilities, which did help with major chunks of this project. When it came to developing ideas in regards to the aesthetics of the webpage, or layouts, or creative concepts or content ideas for the newspaper, my creative thinking skills became very handy.
Another one of my strengths is to converse well using my writing skills, thus by writing emails, follow up notes, or articles/pieces for the newspaper, I was able to demonstrate this skill, and ofcourse improve even more as a communicator. My language skills were also very useful while editing the works of others grammatically, and otherwise.
My weakness is that I’m shy, because of which I don’t often share my point of views or ideas that easily in a group setting, which stayed true for the beginning of this project. I wouldn’t initiate conversation (in person) with my group members, I would only do it through text/emails, which sometimes led to miscommunication. However, after working for such extended periods of time with my team, I have improved upon my communication, and I do put forward my opinions more confidently and clearly now. There still is a lot more to improve on in this area, but I can see clear progress uptil now. Another one of my weaknesses is to procrastinate my work, however, what I realised through this project is that, I did not delay my work when it came to the newspaper, as it was something I’m truly interested in, hence I understood that I’m not a procrastinator by nature, but I might be picky based on my interests.
LO 2: Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
The entire project laid under an unexplored area for me, never have I never been part of a newspaper or of something so large scale, so that in itself was a very big challenge, although an exciting one. To pile up on it, given the pandemic, the planning and beginning of this project had to happen online, which meant that even the editorial board or any other members of the team couldn’t meet in person to discuss our ideas. This was extremely challenging as none of us really knew what we were doing in the beginning, we were experimenting with our ideas and visions, and the restrictive connection online made it difficult to do that. However, this was something we all wanted to do for sure, so we decided upon weekly meetings, and a continuous online chat group so that we could understand what page we were all on, and get the project on track as soon as we could. After we got a grip on how to handle a newspaper, we decreased the frequencies of our meetings, and continued with the group chat for any doubts/ clarity required.
Another challenge that I faced was managing my time, like I mentioned earlier, we scheduled weekly meetings at the start, which sometimes stretched out for hours, and when we had begun collaborating with the web-designers we had daily meeting for about a month; the newspaper took up a lot of time, and it came tiresome to juggle that with my academics and other extra-curriculars. Newspaper responsibilities included: meetings, emailing reminders to writers for submissions, drafting emails for teacher help/approval/supervision, editing content, creating content, updating web-designers of edits/changes/uploads for the website.
I had to really work on creating effective schedules that would help me balance my work responsibilities in terms of the newspaper, and in terms of my academics, while also maintaining my mental and physical health. I missed out on some sleep at first, but gradually, I was able to prioritise more effectively, and felt less overwhelmed with the tasks at hand.
LO 3: Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience
As discussed before, my teammates and I came up with thai idea, and began planning it ourselves, so by forming our team, interviewing and hiring others to join our team, coming up with name ideas/ design ideas/ proposal ideas for the newspaper and planning each editions requirements, content and format, I have displayed how to initiate and plan a CAS experience.
LO 4: Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
Being the co-founder of a project in itself requires you to display a certain level of determination, commitment and perseverance. I have showcased these qualities throughout the entire journey. At first, when for a while we thought that thai project won’t be approved since Fountainhead already has a magazine, we stayed committed to our idea, and began to spot out differences between the magazine and ur potential newspaper, we brainstormed more qualities to add to our newspaper which would make it more appealing in different than what teh magazine had to offer. When the idea was approved, and we had created our team, we were to start building our website, and during that time the editorial board went through a lot of quarrels and disagreements, for each one of us had a different vision of how we wanted the website to look like, at that point we had to commit to the idea and purpose of the newspaper and compromise on a mutually likeable idea for all of us. This was an important step to display our commitment to the newspaper, and to each other which helped us trust each other more in the future as well. Then throughout the processes of editing and planning and formulating each edition’s formats and content, we displayed commitment and enthusiasm. Our web-designers because of personal reasons had to leave our team which put us in a rut for a while, as we couldn’t upload or update any content on our website, but even then, instead of giving up on the newspaper, we continued creating content, and tried to find other web-designers who would help us continue our project. After that happened, we immediately started uploading again. The entire journey of getting through a single edition is long and tiresome, from approving content ideas, to writing the content, editing it, making theme-based changes in our website and marketing the edition, it all requires a great sense of perseverance, which I believe I have shown.
LO 5: Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively.
Managing and publishing a newspaper is like being part of a firm, you can’t do it alone, and there are experts for everything. Even though I was a part of initiating the idea, I didn’t do it alone, we were a group of 5 who initiated the newspaper, which obviously displays how important collaboration is. And even after the approval stage of the project, to run a newspaper, we needed experts for all areas, web-designers, writers, and photographers, it wasn’t a 5 person task to do it all, without having any content to post, or any place to post to, the newspaper would be just a vision. Collaboration with our entire 25-30 people team was essential and beneficial to produce a meaningful and fruitful newspaper.
LO 6: Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance
As a part of a ‘newspaper’ we made sure to engage in events in regards to our schools and age, but also matters of global significance such as, amazon fires, teh pandemic, mental health, and much more. I myself wrote pieces regarding a few of the topics mentioned above, and encouraged a segment for articles about such matters, so that as a newspaper, we remained connected to and learned, and educated each other and our reader about global matters of importance.
LO 7: Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions
A big project means big responsibility. Being a platform for writers and photographers to express their talent, was a great experience, but it required us to ensure that whatever we posted, was academically honest and non plagiarised content. It would be unethical to post someone else’s work or unauthentic work and framing it otherwise, so to do that, we checked the plagiarism of the articles while editing through online sites, and uploaded only what was original. ANother choice that we made was to stick to an online platform. One of the reasons to go with an online platform for our newspaper was the pandemic of course, but even otherwise, despite my our personal preference to hand copies of the newspaper, we thought publishing the newspaper online would be more environmentally sustainable and wise, and hence we decided that even after the situation got better, and we could go to school again, we would not switch to physical copies of the newspaper, and continue with the online publishing.
To conclude, this project was one of the most wholesome and rememberable projects I have been a part of, it was extremely thrilling and enjoyable but it also taught me to be more principled, made me a better communicator, taught to the confidence to take on big responsibilities, and improved my work ethic drastically.
Link to newspaper: https://thecorridors.herokuapp.com/home