Student led newspaper evolves to meet consumer needs

Student voices. Immediate access. Complete coverage. The face of delivering news and stories to students has changed drastically over the last few decades. Consumer needs are no longer met by a print newspaper alone, but instead require access through apps, social media, and a website while providing information that covers everything from important dates to personal student stories.

Journalism Adviser Rebecca Dominy knew she wanted to be a journalism teacher since she took her first journalism class in her sophomore year of high school. 

“My journalism teacher had a profound impact on my life and I’ve become really good friends with her over the years,” Dominy said. “All of the teachers I had in high school influenced me to become a teacher. I wanted to be able to be someone who helped kids see who they could become and then help them get there.”

With few classes putting student work on display the way the newspaper class does, Dominy believes her students can hone their skills and inform the public about what is happening around Bryan High.

“We hit the ground running at the beginning of the school year,” Dominy said. “Some students have been in the class for four years while others are beginners. This helps us move forward quickly as students are required to learn as they go.”

With this fast-paced format, Dominy thinks the environment is vital to the success of the class.

“Newspaper is a family,” Dominy said. “Kids from all different walks of life come together to produce something meaningful and learn how to rely on each other to get it done while also becoming friends through the process.”

The students on the Norseman staff enjoy their part in making the school a more informed place by providing student input.  

“My favorite part of being on the Norseman staff is making friends and since we are all doing the same kind of thing it gives us something in common to talk about,” editor senior Sophia Bradley said. “I also really enjoy writing because I can pretty much write about anything I want and get my opinions out there.”

 Dominy has a lot of duties such as the newspaper, theory of knowledge, independent study, and yearbook teacher, but balances all her tasks.

“Though I wear a lot of hats with all the things I do at Bryan High, one of the things that require the most balance is working with students on the newspaper,” Dominy said. “Helping students find their voice while also finding the confidence they need to put their work out there to the public over and over again is rewarding, but also challenging.”

Students enjoy being on The Norseman staff as it gives them a place to express their opinions and provide information about the school.

“My favorite part of being on The Norseman staff has to be that I have a platform to reach a wide variety of students who previously would have never considered my opinion on school-related subjects,” assistant editor junior Ace Roueche said. “It has introduced me to a lot of people who recognize me and it’s just been a really fun experience.”

Though Bryan High had weekly announcements several years ago, the class that created those no longer meets. At the end of the 21-22 school year, principal Lane Buban asked journalism adviser Rebecca Dominy if she thought it was feasible to start announcements again and add a podcast. 

“Though we have a lot going on in publications already, the idea of doing a broadcast and podcast was exciting,” Dominy said. “I understand that our students and teachers needed a way to receive information on a weekly basis that would allow them to know about meetings, school events, and student success.”

The school administration is also looking forward to the advancements the class is taking to deliver information to all stakeholders.

“I think the new additions are steps in the right direction to keep up with how the world receives information,” Buban said. “We need to keep looking for ways to better inform our students, staff, and parents.”

Communication is important regarding the school in order to get information out, and Dominy believes that the pros of the broadcast outweigh the cons.

“I understand that showing the announcements each week takes time from class, but the trade-off is completely worth it,” Dominy said. “Though Bryan High has always been a great school, COVID and other factors have created a downswing in the overall culture and environment of the school. I believe that a huge factor in transforming that is communication and letting everyone know what is going on at the school and how they can get involved with different programs.”

Students enjoy the announcements because it brings the school community together and provides information about what’s going on. 

“The broadcast and podcast are important because it allows our school to have fun and interact with each other,” sophomore Madeleine Ward said. “It connects our community and creates friendships. It also brings us together as a society by letting us know about events and accomplishments.”

Though the news has had a positive effect on the school, Dominy faced many technical challenges in setting up the broadcast. 

“The most daunting thing about starting the announcements and podcast was that I knew virtually nothing about the technical process,” Dominy said. “So after meeting with Mr. Buban I spent the next week researching the equipment we needed, how to connect the podcast to our website, and working up a design for our news desk. A couple of students helped with the set-up and we are continuing to learn about the process even now, but hopefully next year things will run a little smoother.”

Along with the recent additions of the announcements and podcast, the Norseman is adding new types of media to get information out there and connect with students. 

“We have also been working on a mobile app that is now available for both Android and iPhones,” Dominy said. “Users will be able to set alerts for notifications of new stories or even new stories from specific writers. We are still fine-tuning it, but have rolled it out for students and teachers to start using to test the waters and learn what we need to work on.”

Another aspect of the news is that it allows students to interact with the school in simple, yet engaging ways. 

“One of my favorite things that we have been able to add is a way for people to submit photographs easily to be used during the broadcast, or in the newspaper or yearbook,” Dominy said. “Though we get amazing coverage from journalism students and the photography students, we can’t be everywhere at once, so it is great to have a way to get media from others.”

Along with captivating students’ attention, the Norseman news has gained attraction from teachers as a way to get information about what’s going on at the school.

“I like the announcements because I like watching students showcase and develop their talents,” Spanish teacher Joy Lopez said. “It’s very informative and it helps students visualize what is going on at the school rather than just hearing it, which has made it more impactful.”

Though the Norseman staff enjoys writing the paper, there are many challenges that come that can cause delays with the paper.

“One of the biggest challenges with meeting the needs of the consumers is that newspaper is just a class for my students and not a job,” Dominy said. “I get these kids for less than an hour five days a week and they are able to do amazing things, but there is a delay on how fast we can get information out even under the best circumstances that include catching students and teachers for interviews and working around school events.”

Dominy’s class replicates the real world and society’s modern culture by mimicking how media delivery and communication have evolved.

“We live in a fast-paced world with people used to information coming directly to them,” Dominy said. “Because of this, information delivery has had to change and adapt to fit into how people lead their lives. For us, that means we have to come up with new ways to reach students, parents, and community members.”