Experts vs. Independent Voices

I know that journalists are supposed to maintain their credibility and independence.  They are not supposed to have anything to do with their sources.  But on a high school yearbook, that is often just not possible or even really very realistic.

First of all, the best source for information about the cheerleaders is our cheerleader.  She know all their names, grades, what the cheers are called and what the heck a “herky” is.   She is also the one most motivated to make sure the cheerleader page is done well.  No one else really wants to do it.  And I really don’t blame them.   It is not a rewarding job. If you misspell one name or get one fact wrong, then you could end up with an irate mom on your hands.

The same is true of nearly any club, organization or sport page in the yearbook.  The kids who really care are the ones who are involved in that group.

So, I gave up on trying to tell them that they can’t design the pages for the groups that they are involved in.  It just doesn’t make since.  They are our in-house experts.  We are stupid to waste that resource.

Of course we need to make sure they don’t pack the page with pictures of just their buddies or themselves.  But you can train them not to do that and of course check the pages before they go to print.  And even run a copy by the sponsor to make sure the team captain wasn’t left out.  (Don’t give them “approval” just ask them to look for mistakes).

In the changing world of journalism we are entering – experts are the future.  Doctors/reporters and lawyer/reporters who practice their profession and report on it from an expert’s point of view are going to become more common.  We need to get used to it and train our kids how to handle it ethically.

Mr. C

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