Chips should write news stories that appeal to all readers
Silver Chips is, first and foremost, a student newspaper. The paper is obligated by this classification to report on the news around and about Blair. But, we have to ask ourselves, what good is a student newspaper if no one reads it?
We have to be blunt with ourselves: students don't want to read about the same budget, security and staffing issues that continue to grace the front page of our paper issue after issue. While news is certainly necessary, our readers are more interested in hard-hitting stories that relate to them.
Saying this isn't easy: as managing news editor, I firmly believe in the importance of the news stories Chips covers. But, from the point of view of an average Blazer, I can see why the news stories aren't the first stories read in the paper, if read at all by most of Blair.
Thus, I believe it is prudent for us to take strategies to make our paper more interesting for all of our readers. The easiest step to take would be to carefully consider how Chips presents the news stories.
One of the most popular sections of Silver Chips is the centerspread and it's easy to see why: the two page spread is colorful, attractively laid out and has a descriptive and interesting headline. The news section could take a few ideas from centerspread's success. News layouts don't have to be dull and repetitive - spicing up how these stories are presented would make more readers pay attention to the news section of Chips. Visually striking graphics and photographs could also improve the news pages. Another consideration we should make when working on news pages is the quality of the headlines we use.
Some news headlines tend to be dull (MCPS applies for snow day waivers after blizzard, last issue) while some of our more successful stories have short, attention grabbing headlines ("More blacks accepted into Magnets," 2005).
When we layout the paper, editors should definitely spend more effort in writing headlines so that readers want to read the news.
However, more drastic measures might also need to be taken. If we don't have anything new or important to say about a certain news topic, maybe we shouldn't cover the story. Chips covers budget stories far too often and, while the topic of budget cuts and deficits is tremendously important for students and teachers at Blair and the county, having a budget story each cycle is just too much.
Recently, Chips has run many security stories, including several stories about hall sweeps and other security operations at Blair. Again, these stories get repetitive to read after a while, and will not compel readers to pick up the latest issue of Silver Chips, which leads to another improvement we could implement.
The front page of Silver Chips is the first impression almost every Blazer has of each new issue. Of late, we've usually run two or three news stories on the front page along with a feature towards the bottom of the page.
Perhaps now is the time to reevaluate this standard. Front page should only contain the most pressing and most important news stories; stories that Blazers will want to read, instead of the typical news, ad nauseam.
As our senior staffers' tenures come to an end, we should evaluate the triumphs and failures of this past year in Chips. One thing that I hope next year's Chips staff members will improve upon is the number of people who enjoy reading Chips. To reiterate upon past statements and themes, Silver Chips belongs to the students, teachers and community of Blair. We, serving our readers, need to craft issues of the paper that every member of our community will enjoy reading.
Good night and good luck. Stay classy, Montgomery Blair High.
Warren Zhang. Warren Zhang is Silver Chips Print's charismatic stallion of a news editor and ombudsman. He enjoys being awesome and reviewing (read: destroying) movies in his spare time. More »