Chasing the story

Student journalists learn how to inform

Deadlines are killers, typing is slow, and interviewing is embarrassing, but nothing distracts the budding journalists at Craig Middle School from the thrill of seeing their names in print.

"It's so cool to see something you wrote in the paper. It's my favorite thing," seventh-grade student Sam Curley said. "It makes me feel all fuzzy inside."

This is the second time Curley has enrolled in the quarter-long class.

"They wanted some experienced people to stay on," he said.

Curley missed his deadline for the last edition of the newspaper. He blames poor typing skills.

For the next edition, he's working on a story about students' favorite reality TV shows. "Fear Factor" has a broad lead, but Curley was surprised to get a vote for "Trading Spaces."

Students learn the "five Ws" of journalism and use each other to practice asking questions.

They use a technique where they invent something a person has done -- without telling that person -- and then ask them questions about the feat.

The goal is to ask such well-crafted questions that the person answering them figures out what they supposedly did.

On Wednesday, Larna Liljedahl was asked "Why so many?" And "Why that particular animal?"

Although good questions, they weren't enough for Liljedahl to guess that she had broke the world record by eating 74 pigs' ears.

This is the second year that CMS has offered journalism as an extension class. Stephen Ghirardelli agreed to teach it and said it has been fun and interesting.

"The nice thing is that the kids want to be here," he said. "They get a lot of freedom."

Students publish two newspapers a quarter, which gives students two weeks to work on each story. Students who have experience -- who have taken the class before -- often help with the paper's layout.

They write about sports, school events, student issues and throw some gossip student surveys into the mix.

Students, with Ghirardelli's guidance, brainstorm a list of ideas and then choose their stories from that list.

In the next edition of the Bulldog paper -- due out in about two weeks -- readers will see football and cross-country coverage, as well as a story about the school dance.

This is Derrick Ferguson's third quarter in the journalism class.

"I like finding out stuff others don't know and presenting it to them," he said. "For me, trying to get done on time is kind of an exciting stress."

Ferguson said the class has taught him ways to form better leads and has made him faster at typing.

"I learned what it's like to have people congratulate you," he said. "I don't get that much."

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