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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Friday, August 19, 2011

School newspaper a welcome addition to Saratoga Springs High School

It’s great to have a job you can get excited about. That’s how I feel about journalism. It has so many rewarding moments, enough to somehow compensate for the downsides. Rik Stevens, the upstate New York editor for the Associated Press (and a former Saratogian staffer), told students in the class I teach at University at Albany that his journalist father, learning that his son would be following in both his parents’ footsteps, accurately predicted that he’d “hate the hours, hate the pay, but love the work.”

It’s great to see other people excited about journalism, too. I am so glad that Saratoga Springs High School will not only be reviving a school newspaper this fall (hard to believe a school of this size and caliber has been without one), but will also be offering journalism classes.

Earlier this month, a press release came to The Saratogian about the rigorous 2011 Reynolds High School Journalism Institute program hosted by Kent State University in Ohio in July. Flipping through the release, I found the local connection: One of the participants in the competitive program affiliated with the American Society of News Editors Foundation was Jill Cowburn, a teacher at Saratoga Springs High School. Reporter Suzanna Lourie quickly interviewed Cowburn for a news story, which is where I learned the former New York Times television company documentary-maker and producer, who student-taught at Shenendehowa High School, would be introducing a journalism program at the high school. Sixty-three juniors and seniors have already pre-registered for three sections of Introduction to Journalism.

The school newspaper, she said, would at least at first be online only. That’s not only a money-saver, it’s in keeping with journalism’s digital revolution.

My immediate response was to email Cowburn offering a partnership with The Saratogian on this new venture. I was thrilled by her enthusiastic response – as well as by the enthusiastic response from newsroom staffers interested in participating. And, as Cowburn noted in her email to me, this will also provide “some great mutual opportunities for engagement in the community.”

Clearly, Cowburn understands Journalism 101 in 2011.

As Lourie noted in her story, Cowburn recognizes that “all students can gain from journalism’s core critical, creative and analytical skills.”
“Most won’t go on to be journalists, but regardless, they will be more informed consumers of media,” Cowburn said.

And better citizens, I would add. A win for everyone.


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