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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

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Letter to the Editor
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Media exposure enhances online appreciation

Nine months of Publications class, lunch work, after-school time, competitions and seminars is what it takes to keep The Feather Online in motion each year. But when my sophomore year ended, adviser Greg Stobbe assured me I could still work toward the future success of the paper. “Journalism camp,” he said.

He handed me an application to the Dow Jones Journalism Workshop at California State University, Fresno (CSUF), convincing me to write the required essay and, if accepted, spend a week there, putting together a newspaper with top journalism students and advisers from around the Central Valley.

The concept was daunting at first. Would the other students be die-hard future journalists? But Stobbe persisted, so on June 19 I arrived at the atrium at CSUF to meet the instructors: Gary Rice, a journalism professor at the university, and Fred Wickman, a professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City.

I met my roommates and we had dinner at the dining hall near the dorms. To my relief, no one seemed overwhelmingly driven: they were ordinary students like me.

Every day we made the trek across the campus from the dorms to McKee Fisk, the journalism building, in the blinding heat. The migration was complete with hurried breakfasts, get-to-know-you conversations with my new friends and renditions of old pop music sung at the top of our lungs.

On Friday morning the grueling schedule began: 11 1/2 hours of classes and time to work on articles for the paper, which we dubbed On the Real. There was a current events test every morning based on the daily Fresno Bee newspaper and worksheets to learn the basics of AP style. Rice also made up news events and played the various characters invovled. We “interviewed” him and wrote up the ficticious story.

As the week progressed, we had an opportunity to choose subjects for our articles. I chose the new California law restricing cell phones on the road as well as a feature on censorship in high school newspapers. Throughout the week I printed tons of pages of Internet research, ambushed interviewees at River Park and ran up my cell phone bill making calls to gather information.

I found one of my favorite moments of the workshop helping with someone else’s article. While collaborating with my new friend Ashlee Sullivan (’10, of Washington Union High School) on her article about gay and lesbian pop culture, I remembered an article I had read months earlier.

The San Francisco Chronicle story related to the first lesbian couple to marry in San Francisco: Phillis Lyons and Del Martin, both in their 80s. We managed to find Lyons’ number, and Sullivan interviewed her, giving her article a unique angle from someone who could compare the changes in pop culture.

While I did not agree at all with the subject matter, it was exciting to help my friend find excitement in finding the perfect quote and to know that I had helped her article become really great.

Creating On the Real was a contrast to what I do on The Feather because it was a print newspaper. We all had the same set deadline. The headlines couldn’t be written until the space for them was determined?something irrelevant on the Net because of unlimited space. I gained a new appreciation for the freedom of an online paper.

I did not fully realize all I had learned until I came back to school as a newly instated editor. The tips I learned from journalism professionals gave me a new perspective in writing and editing at The Feather.

Despite the 11 1/2 work days, early mornings, blistering commutes across campus and even missing my sister’s birthday, I treasure what the Dow Jones Journalism Workshop taught me. Along with two years of experience and Stobbe’s tutelage, “journalism camp” as I called it, prepared me to help lead The Feather.

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