An exciting future for my high school newspaper The Marshfield Times

Back in May of this year I decided I wanted to share what I've learned while working at the Emerald Media Group with high schoolers and other young aspiring journalists. Yesterday, my former editor in chief and long time friend Andy Rossback and I headed down to our hometown, Coos Bay, Ore. On the drive down we planned out the entire day-long workshop agenda. The theme of the workshop was digital journalism. We arrived at Marshfield High School this morning and made our way down those familiar halls we hadn't seen in years and made our way into the journalism lab. About 15 students showed up for the workshop which was something I didn't expect, but was happy to see. We started the day out with a trailer video for Page One, the documentary about the New York Times and the struggles of running a newspaper in the digital era. We covered every angle we knew could be useful for a newsroom that's ready to go digital-first. This included the basics of digital reporting, the importance of timeliness, the power that social media has as a tool for generating story ideas and broadcasting content to readers and much more. Andy discussed something that many of the students had little understanding of — the power of public records. The look on their faces was indescribable when Andy explained that the contents of their principal's daily calendar and email account are publicly obtainable information. We ended the morning presentation with Apple's 1997 "Think Different" commercial. After my 50th time watching the video, it still gives me chills. After the morning presentation, four of the students stuck around the lab to learn more about editorial workflow. They wanted to know if there was an easier way to get their content online. I showed them how they can all create WordPress accounts and become members on their website. After that, they just kind of hit the ground running. They began discussing how they were going to implement a system that they essentially created on their own. Next they asked me if I had any advice on WordPress themes. Earlier in the month I had a discussion with Ivar Vong, our rockstar web developer at the Emerald, and he gave me the fundamentals of what a successful website could look like. I regurgitated his information to these students — I used far less 'developer' jargon as even I only understand 60 percent of what Ivar is saying. They searched for themes for about 30 minutes and landed on one that wasn't only free, but had the vast majority of features they wanted. Needless to say I was impressed. I ended the workshop with a long conversation with the adviser and my friend, Catherine Hampton. We discussed potential changes to her grading policy, as the whole mantra of their newsroom is likely to change. Originally each student was assigned two roles. Every student was expected to be a reporter in addition to what they were interested in — photography, design, copy editing, etc. The expectations were to write one article for each print edition that comes out about every month and a half. This used to make sense as there was hardly enough space to fit the 20+ articles they were producing into one newspaper. Asking them to produce more than that would mean around half of their articles would never be published. This all changes when the attitude of the newsroom gears towards digital journalism. The internet is endless and the more quality content they can produce the better. As Andy said today, they can shine more light, they can spark more conversations, they can challenge more people to be better. I'm overwhelmingly excited for these young journalists and I can not wait to see what they come up with. Here's the prototype of their new website.