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School buildings close and yearbook deadlines loom

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by Susan McNulty, CJE The Stampede and The Hoofbeat adviser J.W. Mitchell High School, Trinity, Florida

What a shock when COVID-19 escalated quickly from a virus in China to a threat that brought about a near total shutdown of life as we know it. And what is a yearbook adviser to do, when empty pages intended for spring sports, clubs and organizations sit waiting for photos that will never develop?

As a yearbook adviser at a big school with a big yearbook (416 pages) I am grappling with those issues now, just like many fellow advisers across the country.

Image from CDC

If your students publish online or still have time to revise and update the yearbook before your final deadline, remember to keep coverage of the pandemic local by finding out how to make the COVID-19 story relevant to your readers.

Was the NJROTC team already at the airport headed to nationals, only to learn that the competition was cancelled? Was the softball team undefeated when the season abruptly ended? What about those journalism students who had been looking forward to JEA/NSPA in Nashville?

How did they respond to the cancellations? What did students do instead? How did everyone adjust to online learning?

Free resources exist to help you and your staff as you report on the virus. Social media proves valuable when reaching students as they shelter in place.

The Student Press Law Center has compiled resources for journalism teachers and student journalists, including guides to covering the pandemic remotely.

Yearbook publishers can be excellent resources for coverage ideas and communication information, so reach out to your representative for guidance.

The Student Press Law Center has compiled resources for journalism teachers and student journalists, including guides to covering the pandemic remotely.

And remember to follow all copyright laws when using graphics in your reporting. The CDC provided graphics free to download and use.

Resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/media/subtopic/images.htm

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