For 10 days students researched, wrote, edited and took photographs, and finished up designing news pages. Nineteen intrepid, aspiring middle school journalists gathered this summer for the second edition of Harker Summer Program’s Camp Chronicle. And, proof of the fun students had, on the final day of the two-week Zoom course, several mused on how it would be wonderful to have a longer class so that they could put out more issues.
Their two-week course saw the young scribes evolve from novice reporters to putting out two issues of “The Squeaky Pen,” with 10 sections and 18 pages each, in the process learning how to be newspaper reporters, editors, photographers and graphic designers. They learned what kinds of questions to ask, how the “lede’’ and the “kicker’’ (intriguing opening and closing sentences) on stories are vitally important to keep the reader’s interest, why revisions are so crucial, how to fact-check articles to make sure there are no errors, grammatical or in the content, and how to add attribution to stories.
The editors for each section (everything from Harker Summer Program news to local and state to business and tech) were in charge of designing their pages, making sure font size and design meshed with the other sections, and also worked with the reporters to find photos and graphics to go with the articles. Taught by Kate Murphy, Gr. 8 English teacher and former freelance writer, the class was modeled after a course from her college master’s program.
Students saw a professional staff at work when they toured the San Jose Mercury News offices, where they impressed the guide with thoughtful questions and focus as they watched reporters and editors at work. Students saw the massive presses turning out the day’s paper and the “robots’’ that retrieve the massive rolls of newsprint from huge warehouses to keep the presses stocked with paper.
It was a fitting field trip to nourish nascent aspirations and several students who attend Harker during the regular school year said they are motivated to volunteer for the MS newspaper’s staff!