Introducing the 2020 publication, The Vanguard

And, it’s a wrap. The first-ever virtual New England High School Journalism Collaborative program ended today with a virtual “banquet” complete with awards, including a $2,500 scholarship in the name of the program’s founder, Carole Remick.

Congrats to all of the students, mentors, and my fellow board members who keep this program alive in Carole’s memory. (Yeah, I’m looking at you Paula BouknightMike CarraggiCorey J. Allen, and Ann Moritz!)

What was different this year? First, the program is usually housed at Regis College, where students live for the week overseen by RAs who are former grads of the program.

They are usually bused into Boston daily to work out of space at the Gwen Ifill College of Media at Simmons College.

They go out and do interviews, take photos, video, etc.

This year they worked like many professional reporters are working as we speak: from home. Training and guest speakers went virtual.

The students did interviews via Zoom, phone, and email. They were limited when it came to visuals (although one went out and took photos at a protest in Boston), so again, they did what the pros are doing and asked sources for photos, video, and other images. They took screenshots of Zoom and social media posts. They used tools that I showed them to create multimedia content such as infographics, maps, and quizzes.

And then for the first time ever, they individually published their stories online using a tool that we use in my intro class, Adobe Spark Page. I then compiled all of their work on a WordPress site. (Link above.)

Usually, I do all of the web production and our wonderful colleague Christine Varrieur lays out the newspaper which is printed by the Boston Globe. This year they couldn’t fit us into the press run before the program ended, so they will be printing the newspaper next week and students will receive copies via mail.

Normally, today we would have been in a grand hall at Regis, eating a catered lunch, enjoying the open bar for the grownups, meeting the student’s family members, and posing for photos. The website would have been revealed on a big screen and copies of the newspaper would be at each seat.

The program’s leaders, Leah Lamson and Milton Valencia would be up at the podium singing the praises of the students and emceeing the program.

Today, we gathered via Zoom, shared stories, and congratulated the students. Leah and Milton spoke, as did all of the board members, Mary Kaye Cunningham Leonard and her husband John, who oversee the Remick Foundation, and Prof. Colleen Malachowski, Carole Remick Endowed Program Director in Communication at Regis. I showed off the student’s work online.

The students have walked away with some real-world experience and hopefully work that they will be proud to share.

Personally, I’m thankful for the brief distraction from all of the craziness that’s been going on these past few months. Onward.

By Michelle Johnson