Jeff Morris, Adviser, City High Yearbook, Iowa City, Iowa

Digital Media & Social Networks

“I know of some schools that have a Facebook page for their yearbooks that lets students submit their own photos for the yearbook. They also use it as a means of communication for the student body. Some kids use it for interviewing though, [and] I frown on this because I still like face-to-face interviewing for all the little imagery details  that need to be included in the story,” Morris stated.

I must agree with him in this aspect. The whole idea of storytelling involves details and imagery that can only be included if the interview is done face-to-face. I do not thing that Facebook should be used as an interviewing platform because it takes away the beauty of what make an interview real. My favorite aspect of journalism is the interview, a time when you get the opportunity to meet others and discuss the role they play in the story you are covering. If this aspect was taken away, what would journalism become? I am starting to see a decline in communication between people. There is less and less personal communication because technology has made it easier for us to transfer information to one another, and a lot faster to boot. Instead of calling someone, people text. Instead of writing a letter, people email. Instead of having a conversation in person, it’s done on Facebook and instant messaging. Our individual voices, body language, and the immediacy of conversation is almost becoming obsolete. If this were to take place in a journalistic world, we would lose all of those idiosyncrasies that makes up an interview. I do, however, think that Facebook and other online arenas would be great places to preview yearbook material (coverage areas, content, interviews, and photos), without giving the final product away. My students are in the process of working on this right now, but time is of the essence. No one is going to pay attention to an online space that is never updated, and since Facebook cannot be accessed at school, students are having to update the page at home and in their “free time” and this is a struggle for some of them.

Jeff said that he has used digital media in the past with VHS and DVD that were included with the yearbooks. You can have a physical book part of the class and a video or photo slide show part as well. I also know that some schools get the rights to certain songs and include them with books. Usually songs that have been picked by the class and then are included on a CD.

“The technology may change and the digital media my become obsolete, but the physical book will still keep its pages turning,” he said. We really need to embrace cell phones-texting, computers-Facebook, twitter, more and more. Using ipads as text books has been proposed and looked into. “I guess I could envision a totally online yearbook that could be added to as the years passed. That also makes me think you have to remember the students who have and those who have not. Socioeconomic status is definitely a factor that affects the life of a yearbook,” Morris stated. I think socioeconomics is often ignored when it comes to technology and this is a major factor especially as it relates to our audience. You will always be leaving someone out no matter which way you go, whether students cannot afford the book or they do not have computers at home. How do we reach these students? I know that our school has discussed donating books to seniors who cannot afford the books, but it is also a lot cheaper to produce these items digitally.
Visual Communications/Visual Literacy

“I think most advisers stay on top of trends by just doing yearbook. Yearbooks reps and the students keep the adviser up to date on the technology and they trends. Conferences are also an important source of information for all the latest and greatest. Most advisers have an interest in the techno side of yearbook or else they wouldn’t stay doing it,” Morris stated.

“Design that uses sidebars is good design because it can tell the reader a story about something through little bits of copy” he said.

“I know we all strive to have every kid in the book at least twice but the truth is this doesn’t always happen. Some kids are just more involved while others strive to remain invisible-welcome to high school,” Morris said. I think this aspect is so important! My students’ goal this year is to include EVERYONE at least twice. My editors strive to include those students who aren’t as involved, but it’s not an easy task.

Read this New York Times article on inclusion:

If a teacher is going to teach writing then that person should know how to write. I know this should be true but not always so. The teacher also needs to be enthusiastic about the subject and material. I know nothing turns a student often quicker than a teacher who is not excited to be teaching what they are teaching. Cover as many of the basics as possible and then let the students start exploring what they are good at. I don’t like to have such a rigid curriculum that we can’t ever step out of it to try something new.

Using social networks to promote yearbooks

This is being done, you can send out postings on what yearbook is doing, to promote photography, assist advertising, run contests, set up interviews, preview the yearbook as well as use it as a researching tool.

“Online social tools are very dynamic not static” he stated, and if they are not being updated they are not going to work.

With secondary school newspapers, they have immediacy of sports scores that are online, and this is hard to align with the yearbook. I do, however, think that this could be an option at our school because we do not have a school newspaper. I think Facebook would be a great tool for our yearbook staffers to get involved and keep the student body updated in this capacity.

The future of yearbooks

Future of high school newspapers are online due to the urgency of news and lots of people have smart phones now. Even books are going digital, especially with items like the ipad, Nook, Sony Reader, and Kindle. Permanence is really key. If you have the opportunity to have it forever, “in the cloud,” then that will be more motivation to go digital, but access is still a factor. When every household has these things, from hard drives to the cloud, and if the data is safe and secure, yearbooks could be totally digital. But, people still want the physical yearbook because they know exactly where it is.

“During the 1950s not everyone had a TV. You moved into a house and the TV was already there. If you go digital, a receptor must be in place to view the yearbook and we are not close to this yet,” Morris said. Archives are not totally digital because everyone isn’t able to access them. “The book is the way to go, and perhaps you could add a digital aspect, like a movie or sideshow” Morris stated.

” We are getting more techy with each new decade, and this is the life of the students we teach,” Morris stated. “A 21st Century book will look like a 20th Century book, with more color, an added extra techy item like a DVD and/or online archive.” This is where we are now, according to Morris, “computing is down to the quantum level, server space infinite, and you can save a gazillion items and let it sit there and it’s safe.”


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