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EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW I LEARNED

The busyness of learning The room teemed with activity. A group of students sat on the floor, bent over layouts, arguing about the way a photo was cropped. Another group worked on survey questions while an editor sat with a shy staffer, helping her formulate the right questions to ask about the volleyball season. “You have to talk to them conversationally,” he said. “People aren’t going to just ‘give you a quote’,” he coached. Copy editors poured over stories, writing questions in the margins. Design editors debated how a design allowed for more coverage although the story looked shorter. “We’re using a font with a smaller xheight and we’re decreasing the point size

to 9 points. We’ll get the same amount of story in less space,” she argued. “Well, I do like the subheads in the story. You’re right. It will reduce the need for as much transition and increase readership,” he finally agreed. Photographers stood over the light table examining a contact sheet. “This one’s perfect. It tells the essence of the story. You can see the tears running down the coach’s face as he hugs Jennifer. It is the perfect picture for saying ‘we won state’,” he said. Lesson one: Learning doesn’t take place in nice neat little rows. Journalism rooms look like chaos. Everyone, or at least every group, is working on a different project although all of them are working toward the same goal: a great publication. They want one that will reflect their school, their lives, their goals. They want one that reflects their

personalities, their strengths. But out of that chaos, if one listens, comes brilliance. Molds get broken. New thoughts are formed. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” gives way to “let’s look at it from another angle.” Sometimes it’s scary because journalism students question and look for answers—the truth and new ways of doing things. ■

By Judy Babb ■  Artwork by Kevin Necessary 8 • Communication: Journalism Education Today

Summer 1999

Advising Publications  

Everything I needed to know, I learned advising publications by Judy Babb.

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