2022 Kansas Student Journalist of the Year Portfolio

The Kansas Student Journalist of the Year contest gives student journalists the opportunity to showcase their work. The competition is separated into 3 classifications: 1A/2A, 3A/4A, 5A/6A. A winner is chosen from each of those categories and then a finalist is chosen to be sent on to the national competition.

This is the portfolio for 2021-22 Charger editor in chief Emma Alderman.

Reporting and Writing

The purpose of this news story was to inform community members on the effect of the decreased number of substitutes and how the district was attempting to solve the problem. This story involved a lot of research and data collecting before I could begin interviewing people.

Our newspaper staff tries to include an opinion article in our issue every week. I was the lead on this editorial and therefore had to collect all the information and conduct the interviews. This story was really important because we wanted to make it very clear that we are supportive of this new practice and would like for it to continue.
I am not often assigned sports related stories but my adviser always tries to ensure we write articles outside of our comfort zone. This story is a preseason story that went along with the other winter sports previews. When writing sports stories I always try to find new and interesting angles to write about as to ensure it is not boring or predictable. In this case, the girls basketball team has really low numbers and I figured that would be a good angle to write about.

Editing, Leadership and Team Building

“The mission of the Charger newspaper and related media is to inform the students and school community about relevant issues in a fair, accurate and timely manner, to advocate for all students and serve as an open forum for student free speech.”

Explanation At the start of this school year, our adviser challenged us to write a new mission statement following negative community reaction to an article we published and the institution of a new administrative review policy. During this process I explained to the new members what our purpose as a student newspaper is and ensured that the purpose was clearly stated.

The first thing I noticed when reading this story was the format of it. If I were to write this story now I think I might begin it with writing about the sports changes and then move onto other fans and then other activities. Starting with the impact on fans is alright, but the changes to sports should have at least been ahead of cheer and band. Another big thing I noticed was the quotes I included with the section about cheerleading. I should have only used one of those quotes and then maybe gotten a better one from the coach about reasoning or impact of the new policies. It’s also usually a good idea to talk to the superintendent or principal when writing stories like this. Lastly, there are some grammatical errors that after reading I noticed. There is nothing too big that affects the story, but little mistakes that I no longer make.

This is the first ever newspaper story I wrote. Since then I believe my skills as a journalist have improved — not only in my writing but also in my editing skills as I am now editor in chief of our paper and have to review all other projects. I have learned how to critique work in a way that is both kind and helpful to ensure that everything we publish is up to a standard that we can be proud of.

Web and Social Media

Our newspaper staff has both an Instagram and a Twitter account. We have designated one person to be in charge of social media, but at times they need help ensuring that posts happen in a timely manner. We try to post something every school day. These are some examples of Instagram posts that I have made during the past year.

This is an illustration I helped develop for the substitute teacher shortage story I wrote. I took the picture and blacked out the teacher, and then my adviser helped me to add the question marks. The idea behind this image was to visually show the uncertainty students have when teachers are absent. They never know who, if anyone is going to cover their class, and in some cases they are just sent to the library.

Broadcast Journalism

Not only does our school newspaper publish a paper issue each week, we also publish a podcast. Podcast ideas are decided on in class and usually coincide with article ideas. We then assist the podcast coordinator in any way he needs from finding people to interview to helping create questions to ask.


School Resource Officer Taylor Schuldt talks to Alma Elementary students during lunch time. Schuldt plans to spend time at each district building throughout each week. Photo by Emma Alderman.

As of this year, our journalism adviser has tried to ensure that every article we write has some form of photo or illustration with it. Here is a photo I took and a caption I wrote of the school resource officer working with students for an article a fellow staff member wrote last year to introduce her.

The Alma Elementary School hosted an egg drop contest in the fall, and while our staff did not write an article about it, we attended the event to take photos for publication. We posted them on the website in a slideshow and also on our Instagram account. While I was not able to take any of the pictures, I wrote all of the captions before we posted them.

Law, Ethics and News Literacy

Explanation At the start of this school year a new administrative review policy was instated that now requires our staff to send all articles and podcasts to administration two days prior to publication. While this policy doesn’t violate our rights, it keeps the door open for that possibility. We wrote this editorial to voice our opinion on the matter and ensure that our purpose as a student newspaper was known.
At the start of this school year a Gay-Straight Alliance club was formed and approved at our school. We knew that the reaction to a story about it might be bad like we had seen the previous summer following the publication of a similar story but regardless it was something that needed to be written so we did. I was not the lead on this story but it was our opinion editor’s first year in newspaper and he was having some trouble figuring out how to write it. I assisted him through it and made sure that our view on the club was clear.
I joined journalism in the first school year back after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A good portion of the stories I wrote that first year involved the virus in one way or another. This story was another challenging one due to the fact that I live in a rural community where the vaccine was at first received very warily. The hope behind the story was to inform students on the options available in the community for them regarding the vaccine. I hoped that it might help influence some people to consider getting the vaccine but the story was not an opinion piece and therefore I made sure it stayed strictly informative.

Marketing and Audience Engagement

Figuring out unique stories to write for holidays each year is challenging and once I had decided on the topic of the quilt it was even more challenging to find people to interview. The process of writing this story involved talking to the old FCS teacher and hunting down people in the community through Facebook and communicating through text. It was a challenging story and I wish I’d had more time to work on it but I’m also very pleased with the result.

Question of the week

Every week we send out a form with three questions to the entire student body and the staff at the high school. We ensure that one question relates to one of the stories we are working on and the other two questions are about things people are interested in at the time. Questions are always written in class and then after we have a sufficient amount of answers someone compiles the answers that we want to publish. I wrote the story these questions related to and compiled the answers before publication.

Commitment to Diversity

At the end of my first year of journalism my advisor asked me if I would be willing to write a story for pride month in June. I came up with the idea to interview students who were out publicly in the school. I spent a lot of time researching and trying to figure out what question to ask them. After I finished editing the story we had one of the students draw a picture for us to include with it. The article was published in the first week of June and there was immediately a lot of hatred toward it. I learned was that even though people might not like it we should still cover everything we feel is important.

Print Issue Copies

Every week The Charger produces a print issue that is published in the local paper. Part of my duties as editor in chief is to ensure that our page is ready to be sent to publication by noon every Tuesday.

All-Kansas News Publication 2020-21

Kansas State Fair Scholastic Press Corps — Print Competition

Grand Champion 2018

Grand Champion 2012

Reserve Champion 2019

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