First print, then the web
The program at McCourt began in September, 2012, and ran for two years, funded by a city grant to the school. In December, 2014, McCourt News was named Best New Newspaper in the annual Newsies! awards, given by the NYC High School Journalism Collaborative.
We offered a credit-level, elective English class for about 20 11th grade students. The group met three days a week the first year and four days a week the second year. The print newspaper appeared close to weekly; every student and staff member got one delivered during an extended advisory (homeroom) period. This was an unusual newspaper, each issue being a single, double-sided, photocopied page. A website was added toward the end of the second semester. The print paper was used to drive readers to the website, which contained expanded versions of some articles and additional coverage, as well as slide shows and opportunities for conversation about the stories.
Mentors. Students worked with director Leslie Seifert and mentors Flora Lee Peir, an editor on the metropolitan desk of The New York Times, and Ruth Ford, writer for City Limits magazine. Another mentor, Cheryl M. Mann, a business marketing consultant, worked with the group on preparing a marketing plan for the rollout of the school’s news website.
Early work. Much of the early work focused on profiles of teachers new to the school, as in the issue below at the left. (click cover to see it full size).
Later work. The reporting grew more sophisticated and harder-edged. More recent papers covered a canceled dance, the school’s unpopular decision to close a study room, and its policy on PSAT preparation (click on the covers below). The range of stories expanded over the months. The full set of print issues is on the McCourt News website.
In just a few months, the reporting has grown more sophisticated. Students are thinking more critically, and the writing generally has improved. Click cover to see full issue.
The McCourt News website was launched in April, 2013. The print paper sometimes would publish just the beginning of an article, driving the reader to the website, where all stories would appear in full. We encouraged students to add as many links as they could find, vastly expanding the reader’s experience and the reporter’s research abilities. Some articles were prepared just for the website. Photo galleries were a popular addition. We lacked equipment for video and audio.
Click the graphic to see the home page.