SNO Distinguished Sites Adviser Tips & Tricks

With a little over a month to go, the countdown to the end of SNO Distinguished Sites season has officially begun!

We recently reached out to advisers whose publications have already earned Distinguished Site status this year for suggestions and insights about the process, and boy did they deliver! We’ll be sharing their ideas in multiple batches throughout this week.

Let’s kick things off with organization. If you and your staff are on a quest to earn badges (or to take your place as a SNO Distinguished Site), you’ll need a solid game plan to get it done. Here’s what our Distinguished Sites advisers had to say.

  • Make it intentional. “[T]he biggest things we do to get the Distinguished Site Award is to focus our time and energy directly on those badge requirements. It has to be an intentional effort.” – Michael Reeves (James Bowie High School)

  • Don’t feel obligated to reinvent the wheel. “We brainstorm together and find stories that we would normally cover that would also fit within each [badge] category.” – Rachel Hurlimann (Sage Creek High School)

  • Delegate, delegate, delegate… “Basically, one leader on staff claims the responsibility for each badge and/or section of each badge. Each leader can delegate and/or get all of the help they each need to achieve the assigned badge. But, one or two people oversee and report daily on the progress of each badge and/or each badge section until the badge is earned.” – Lisa Roskens (Prosper High School)

  • …and then trust in that delegation. “Create teams to focus on different badges. Each badge doesn’t need to be a whole team effort. Trust your students to learn the requirements of each badge and allow them to manage their progress.” – Brian Smith (Delaware Valley Regional High School)

  • Check your progress regularly. “All newsrooms become chaotic, so it’s easy to forget the goals you’ve set. We have found it helpful to assign ‘badge management’ to a student or two. Those students keep our goals at the forefront during pitch and planning days. If we know we need to use a new story format or we need quick coverage of an event, those students help to ensure we are assigning such tasks in planning.” – Maureen Dyer (Pleasant Valley High School)

However you and your staff choose to coordinate your efforts, we hope you’ll always remember your “why” in pursuing the Distinguished Sites badges – to help your publication excel online. Many advisers echoed this in their responses to us, so we’ll be sharing their reminders at the end of each report this week.

  • “At the end of the day, trying to achieve Distinguished Site status forces your students to create good journalism. It will make your programs better.” – Mary Long (Downers Grove South High School)

Now go get your staff organized and check back tomorrow for more Distinguished Site tips!