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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

A little snark in the pool: engaging audiences and having fun

When Tasha Stewart and Kevin Necessary of the Cincinnati Enquirer and WCPO began presenting ideas about engaging audiences through showing a more human side and being, well- silly, my first reaction was:


So the serious journalism teacher in me balks at all of this.  “Really?  A chili trail?…Did they really live stream a can of cinnamon rolls in a hot car? What a waste of time.”  Then I remember that we are teaching high school kids.

Solving the world’s problems and engaging in complex political conversations are awesome things to take on as a student journalist- when ready, but I’m guessing that when tasked with educating oneself on election issues, the readers are going to turn to the professional journalists over student journalists.  This could very well be one of the most important things to remember as a high school journalism teacher.  Any time I catch myself taking my job too seriously, I know it’s time for a break.

Here is the logic- When I’m having fun, my students vibe off of it and they have fun.  When my REPORTERS are having fun, the audience they are trying to reach will see us as something of value and vibe off of it (maybe?).  Showing that we are human and using that as a tool to gain trust from the audience is also crucial. 

Why don’t we have more fun?  Tasting food is FUN…and funny.  Gifs are fun…and funny. Social experiments on live video are fun.  It’s excellent advice to partner with people who fuel your creative energy and run with it- even the ultra-silly stuff. 

Seth Godin says over and over in his podcast, Akimbo, and on his blog, Seth’s blog that you have to find a way to be of value to your audience.   We need to give the audience what they want. We can be the curators of fun. Everyone takes selfies- but curate all the selfies and put them all in one spot for the audience to easily access.  Can we be that tool that the audience can’t live without? As silly as it is, is that how we create value?

I came across an article on Buzz Feed the other day about a satirist who was tired of typical satire and decided to create real satirical products for people to find in stores to target and engage a very narrow audience.  It cracked me up and you can read about it here: This Guy Hides Hilarious Fake Products In Real Stores And OMG I Want To Find One

This reminds me of another creative and solutions-oriented, but silly, teacher response to vandalism at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Is this snarky or is it pure genius?  You decide: Best response to bathroom vandalism- ever

It’s these types of ideas that inspire me to look for creative and fun solutions to problems. Give the audience something awesome.  It may not be the most important critical thinking article of the year, but sometimes there is beauty in the absurd.

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One Comment

  1. Ha. Kelly, if we started adding artist labels to graffiti, I’m pretty sure our kids would just draw more!