MCHS journalism students learn about content, layout at conference |

MCHS journalism students learn about content, layout at conference

Quality by design

Bridget Manley

Moffat County High School juniors Rhiannon Miller, left, and Skyler Gingrich, along with six other members of the high school's student newspaper, Post Script, recently took a field trip to Fort Collins to learn more about the newspaper business at Journalism Day 2008. Miller, a columnist, and Gingrich, a copy editor, learned about layout and design, reporting and other topics.

When Skyler Gingrich looks at the pages of her high school newspaper, she sees what could be there.

More color.

A creative layout.

New editorial topics.

A student journalism conference held in Fort Collins on Wednesday and Thursday gave Gingrich ideas on how to turn those possibilities into reality.

Gingrich is a Moffat County High School junior and copy editor for the high school’s monthly student newspaper, Post Script. On Wednesday, she and seven other MCHS journalism students made the 4.5-hour journey to the Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus. The reason: Journalism Day 2008.

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Presentations and seminars on topics ranging from layout to improving editorial content awaited six Post Script editors and two reporters at the annual event put on by the Colorado High School Press Association.

Newspaper editor, designer and columnist Tim Harrower gave students tips on improving their publications’ layout and design. Harrower has worked for various newpapers, including The Oregonian and is the author of “The Newspaper Designer’s Handbook,” which is used in newsrooms and classrooms worldwide, according to CHSPA’s Web site.

Katy Gray, MCHS journalism advisor, said Harrower’s presentation was one of the best the students attended.

His presentation on layout and design especially was pertinent to Post Script editors and staff members.

“That’s the (area) they want to work on the most because we don’t do that well in competition when it comes to layout and design,” Gray said.

Post Script columnist Rhiannon Miller, a junior and self-professed design devotee, also was sparked by Harrower’s words.

Harrower compared the layout of American papers to that of other countries, she said, pointing out how foreign publications tend to be more colorful.

He also presented some ways students could tweak page layout to spark readers’ interest by forming words into shapes.

But Journalism Day 2008 addressed content as well as form.

Gingrich took home some ideas for editorial writing, one of her favorite activities.

“I like being able to give people my opinion,” she said.

In one seminar, she learned about what issues students should and should not take up in their editorials. On the “no” list: cafeteria food, school spirit and other complaints worn threadbare by overuse.

Instead, Gingrich intends to tackle other issues this year she sees as more pertinent to the student body. Addressing acts of student aggression, which she said appears to be on the rise this year, is included on her list.

Journalism Day also may have given Gingrich and Miller an idea of what to do after graduation.

Miller plans to work in some aspect of journalism after high school. This week’s seminar helped confirm that goal.

“It definitely got me more excited for it,” she said.

For Gingrich, however, writing for a newspaper is more of a pastime than a driving ambition.

Still, she said, this week’s field trip made journalism “more of a possibility for a career.”

Gray saw another benefit to the trip. In addition to giving students tips they can use this year, Journalism Day 2008 also gave the new staff a chance to bond together.

After all, writing stories, taking photographs and putting it all together on a page isn’t a one-man show.

“No one carries the burden of putting out a good newspaper,” Gray said. “It has to be a group effort.”

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or