by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee

ents working on computer

Students in a media class often are working on a variety of different projects, rather than having all class members working on the same task. These students are the newspaper staff at San Joaquin Memorial High School (Fresno, Calif.).
Photo by Pat Geil

Coordinating a media class certainly has some differences from coordinating other classes you might teach.

In a more traditional class, students may all be working on the same assignment. They could be reading a novel and working toward writing an essay on the book.

In a media class, most often everyone in the class is working on something different. They are working toward a common outcome (i.e., a weekly broadcast, a monthly newspaper, the yearbook, an online news site), but each one is playing a different role. Some may be reporting and writing stories. Others can be designing pages or taking photographs.

In a more traditional class, students have the same role — students. Some may be group leaders for a class project, but, in general, the class roles are the same.

In a media class, organizing the students as a staff with different roles and duties works most effectively. More experienced students are editors, helping train the newer staff members. Some students are handling the business side.

Developing a plan that addresses students having different roles and working on different projects is a challenge, especially for new advisers. Add to that, the students also are learning how to balance student First Amendment rights with legal and ethical responsibilities.

Thanks to Randy Swikle for providing a model staff policy manual. You can download the Word document and modify it for your particular staff situation. staff_policy_manual_swikle

Randy developed this manual, modifying the manual he created with his staff when he advised Johnsburg Weekly News (Johnsburg High School, Johnsburg, Ill.). Randy, who served as a JEA mentor in Illinois, shared the manual on the JEA listserv. Thanks to Randy for letting us share the manual on our mentoring blog for those who might not be on the listserv.

Being on the JEA listserv is one of the benefits of being a member of the Journalism Education Association.