Just before the holiday break, Colin Hickey’s journalism course launched Messalonskee High School’s new online student newspaper, The Messalonskee Monitor.
Hickey, who worked in the newspaper business for 20-years before becoming a teacher, serves as the paper’s editor and offers a great deal of guidance along the way. The stories and content, however, are entirely student driven.
“I’m a huge advocate for students choosing their topics,” says Hickey. “I believe this invariably results in a happier, more motivated student with a stronger story.”
He does insist that the topics be relevant to MHS students, whether that means that they directly relate to events in the school or are simply of clear interest to the teen population. The first edition features articles concerning the impact of this fall’s power outage on a student’s life, the reasons some MHS students and staff members choose a vegetarian diet, and the facts behind a case of offensive Instagram messages targeting MHS students.
The authentic audience that a student paper provides can be a huge motivator for writing students. Working on a school newspaper also gives students a sense of empowerment, teach lessons in civility, and teaches crucial communication and workplace skills.
“As I tell my students, a journalist has to excel at gathering information, analyzing that information, and communicating that information so a general audience can understand fully its significance,” said Hickey.
As the paper moves forward, Hickey says he plans to involve students in the layout and publication process, which should increase the production speed. He also hopes to open it up so that interested students from outside of the journalism course have a chance to contribute.
Click here to read The Messalonskee Monitor.