Power of the press: Student newspaper continues during eLearning, teaches kids the importance of journalism

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Not only are Cathedral High School students following an eLearning platform to continue their studies, those in Tony Willis’ newspaper class are learning the power of the press as they continue to operate the school’s digital newspaper, the Megaphone.

Willis teaches an introduction to journalism class, where students learn the basics of journalism, such as writing, research and interviewing and how to craft stories. Willis also teaches a newspaper class. It has 18 students who produce the school’s newspaper, the Megaphone, which is published every three weeks.

The introduction to journalism class is not required for the newspaper class, but many students in the newspaper class have taken the introduction class.

Because Megaphone is an online publication, production hasn’t adjusted much with eLearning in progress.

“Technologically, we were set up pretty well, but what made this work is the students working from home are willing to step up and say, ‘Yes, let’s still do this, let’s still put out a newspaper, let’s post it and let’s keep the website updated,’” Willis said.

Willis credits the students’ leadership – primarily that of co-editors Nic Napier and Ava Amos and lead designer Ethan Marasco – with coordinating the work.

“I think the most important thing is it’s teaching them the value of journalism, because we need journalism now more than we ever have because we need to have the stories told,” Willis said.

A screenshot of Cathedral High School’s digital newspaper, Megaphone.

The Megaphone’s most recent issue, published March 24, includes advice from the school nurse and from a mental health counselor and tips on how students can adjust if an older sibling returns home from college earlier than expected.

“(Publishing the paper) shows my newspaper staff the value of what they do,” Willis said.

The next edition is scheduled to publish April 22. The website is updated each day.

Per adjusting to a new schedule, Willis said the student team is more mindful about communication.

“Normally, the editors would go through a draft of a story 1-on-1 with the reporter, go through to make changes and edit for style,” Willis said. “Now, this is done back and forth online. I think we have had to be a little more mindful of communicating with each other.”

Each edition is available to Cathedral’s student body as soon as it’s published. It usually receives approximately 3,000 views in the first 24 hours.

“With journalism, there is always something new to write about,” said Marasco, a junior. “I think we are really passionate about still putting out our issues and still updating our website with new articles and stuff because it’s a little bit of normalcy right now. There’s so much crazy stuff going on, so if we can keep doing what we’re doing and keep getting information out to our students, we think that’s really important to have that base of what we have always done.”

For more or to read the newspaper, visit irishmegaphone.com.

Senior Caleb Land works on the Megaphone from home.

Praise for tech support

Cathedral High School teacher Tony Willis credits excellent tech support as the main reason his newspaper class is still successfully publishing the school’s online paper, the Megaphone.

“We have four professional tech support people at Cathedral High School, and our technology is just flawless because of all the work they have done to set everything up and make sure everybody switched over to eLearning as quickly as we did,” Willis said. “We just have great tech support people, and they should get a lot of credit for not only what the newspaper staff has been able to do but for what every teacher at Cathedral High School has been able to do because of the support we get them.”


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