Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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June 3, 2010

Communicating Blazer interests

by Gardi Royce, Page Editor
When a newspaper ombudsman truly does his job, he becomes a bridge between the readers and writers, a bridge that should help improve and guide the paper. Without the input of readers' ideas and criticism, though, there's no way for that bridge of communication to exist. For the writers to cover what the readers need to know, it's imperative that the readers tell the writers what they feel is relevant. If readers are providing insight into their feelings, the writers will be able to address stories that meet the readers' news and entertainment needs. The good thing is that this communication is easy and doesn't take much time. Any student can write down his or her opinions or suggestions and send them to the editors. This small action can have a large impact on the writers and editors. Feedback is a critical piece of developing the newspaper, and without it, we cannot fulfill our title as a public forum for student expression.

For a student newspaper to be completely functional, it should represent the feelings of the students while also providing deeper insights into common issues. The readers look for stories that appeal to their interests but also for ones that stimulate thought about relevant issues. Though in theory this sounds simple, it actually becomes much more complicated to execute. The Silver Chips writers represent only a small section of Blair students and often have similar ideas and interests. The readers bring more diversity to Chips and can have significant influence over the paper. They have the opportunity to change how and what the paper covers by submitting letters to the editor, making their voices heard. This small action is crucial if readers expect to see a publication that represents them.

Even though Silver Chips writers care deeply about the students they are representing, it is often hard to know how students will react to the stories they write. After spending six weeks conducting interviews and researching the story, it is stressful for the writers to wait for readers' reactions. The writers try to gauge how the readers view and place importance on different stories, yet in such a diverse school, the population density makes that difficult. Because of this problem, the only way for the writers to understand is for the readers to communicate their views to the editors. While letters to the editor are optimal, if you have Silver Chips writers in your class, go up to them and tell them what you think about the paper. Even if you have a criticism, the writer will appreciate your help. This small interaction will help bridge the gap between the readers' interests and what the writers assume are their interests.

A key thing to remember is that students have both the privilege and responsibility to communicate their views to the Silver Chips staff. Since Chips is completely student-run, the writers can represent Blair views without prior review from the administration. This allows the readers' input to make a real difference. However, it also becomes the readers' responsibility to communicate, because if readers want change, they have to ask for it.

As a reader, you can write in to Chips about almost anything: types of stories, false claims, bad photos or even a conflicting opinion that wasn't addressed in the article. Any communication is a step in the right direction, but the comments don't have to be critical or negative. Write in about a story or a photo that you really liked, and then Chips knows what to do again.

After getting feedback, the writers are able to construct pages and stories that truly reflect the interests and views of Blair. This connection of communication enables the writers to create a paper that contains stories and photos relating to Blazer interests. By establishing this link of communication, Silver Chips will be able to continue producing quality work while also representing those who support and read the paper.



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