Yesterday, Kara visited four high schools in a row. (Whew) At each school, Kara reviewed content pages that the staff planned to submit on an upcoming deadline. With every group of editors, Kara asked the same two questions:
1) What story (or stories) do you want to tell? To that end, are you telling interesting stories? Ones your audience wants to read? If you don’t even know where to start for a given spread, try this Layers of Coverage Worksheet?from Suzanne Abdelrazaq at South Lakes HS. Ask a small group of students to brainstorm ideas for a specific spread. Then, an editor meets with the small group. Together, the editor and the staffers determine the best possible stories for the spread.
2) What is the best way to tell the story (or stories) you want to tell? Once you know which stories you want to tell, ask yourself, “How should we tell the story?” School-wide events are often covered best by photos with detailed captions. On the other hand, one person’s story can be told with a single photo and a personal profile or a piece of first-person writing. Look at the content you can collect, and then, determine the way you’ll tell the story.
It’s never the other way around. Content first. Then, design.