I typically don’t remember the first day of a class, but I clearly recall the day I joined Journalism Workshop. It was the start of second semester of my freshman year and the last block of the day. The moment class started, the staff jumped right into proofing the entire newspaper before it went to the printer. The process was fast-paced and exciting to see: everyone was pitching in, highlighting (both literally and metaphorically) the tiniest grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. People shouted out last-minute questions, ensuring that there were no holes in the reporting.
It quickly became clear to me that Journalism Workshop isn’t your typical class. We didn’t write stories just to get a good grade. As journalists, we wanted to bring to you, the reader, information that impacted our community.
We keep that same mentality as we prepare each and every issue. We rally together around the same motivation for releasing captivating, fun, thought-provoking stories, graphics, layouts and designs. We debate and double check that every aspect of our content is the way we want it to look: from font size, to margins, to nut graphs and ledes (journalism lingo), conclusions, and to accurate reporting.
But at the same time, we are constantly evolving. The configuration of the staff changes every semester—students graduate and new people join. Perhaps the biggest change came last spring, when we switched from an eight-page newspaper to a 32-page magazine.
This was the greatest challenge that we had posed to ourselves thus far. With a magazine format comes a need for high-quality graphics and meticulously thought out designs, more so than in newspapers. Additionally, there was no guarantee that we would have the manpower to pull off quality issues in the future or even fill more than 30 pages with content. In essence, we made the already stressful process of producing MPH’s premier student publication that much more difficult. And with only six students on staff this semester, some, myself included, doubted whether we could pull it off.
Despite the challenges, our never-fading commitment to journalistic integrity and our desire to reinvent ourselves for the better was what drove us to make the circumstances work.
We each took on more stories. Our designers went on double time to work on layouts. We recruited outside writers, photographers and copy editors, who put so much of their time and energy into the Pebble. And our fantastic advisor, Ms. A, went triple time in order to help us grow as journalists, and so that you could see the best of our capabilities in hard print.
So as you look through our content, you’ll see the final product, but beneath the surface, each page is the result of a wonderful process that the staff and I have been blessed to be a part of. We’ll see Dan’s story, and laugh, thinking about the repeated arguments we had over its headline —a very select few (Read: Dan) preferred “Sleeping Giant”—or flip to Chris’s advice column and think back to the time when he first showed us his brilliant Forrest Gump poster (we hope you’ll love it just as much as we do). We’ll smile as we see Saad’s self-made layout (see HamFan), or think back to early-September, when we had one of many donut parties in Mr. Twomey-Smith’s room while brainstorming the story ideas that we now present to you.
For these reasons, I believe working on the Pebble has been one of the greatest opportunities I could have been given in my entire high school career. And I hope you can join us, not just as readers, but as writers, photographers, copy editors and designers—or all of the above—this upcoming semester. Gain a voice, and join the family.