Student Editors Discuss SNO Distinguished Sites

If you’ve been checking your email this week, you’ve probably seen the tips, tricks and advice we’ve shared from our SNO Distinguished Site advisers. So far, we’ve covered organization and badge specifics.

Today, we’re shifting gears, highlighting a few student editors who shared some insights about leading their staffs to becoming Distinguished Sites.

Much like many of the advisers, the students stressed the importance of getting staff organized and clearly communicating expectations.

Grace Miller, editor-in-chief of The Lantern at Cannon Falls High School, recommended setting a frame of reference early on.

“Start the year with a cohesive plan for earning the badges,” Grace Miller said.

Similarly, Kacey Miller, editor-in-chief of Cedar Park High School’s The Wolfpack, ensures everyone on staff knows their Distinguished Site badge goals as well as their roles in fulfilling them.

“One of the biggest things that helped my staff work to receive the badge was a thorough understanding of the rules for each badge. Explaining to them the type of guidelines that are expected to be followed to be able to meet the publication requirements was important because it allowed for everyone to feel that they were doing the right thing with their work and contributing to the site,” Kacey Miller said.

The student editors seemed to agree that intentionality and badge delegation were both important parts of the process. Web Editor-in-Chief of West Linn High School’s wlhsNOW, Joseph Murphy, emphasized this when discussing how his staff balanced their pursuit of the badges.

“I think the most important part of the process is making sure our brainstorms are deliberate, making sure we are assigning stories that could have a different story page format, and making sure we are delegating work in the multimedia area,” Murphy said.

As far as persevering through the process, both Grace Miller and Kacey Miller had helpful suggestions. According to Kacey, it’s all about spending time learning the ins and outs of the site, particularly the design features, even if they may feel intimidating. For Grace, having a designated person “who is familiar with the site and willing to explore and troubleshoot” is key.

Ultimately, it was clear that persistence and staff empowerment were necessary in achieving Distinguished Site status.

“I just had to trust others. At some points, it was hard because I did put a lot of time into putting forth a plan, but it works. We got the Audience Engagement mostly because our social media editor was on top of it and I didn’t have to do much with that. We also got Excellence in Writing because everyone made good edits on the article … Not a very technical point but trust has helped me and the staff!” Murphy said.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to these student editors for sharing their thoughts with us. As we’ve done every day this week, we’re concluding this report with a reminder of the “why” behind the Distinguished Sites program. Fitting for today, this one is all about the students.

  • “Allow the classroom to operate like a newsroom; students are at the heart of student journalism, therefore let them create an environment to be accountable for their work.” – Yiu Hung Li (Foothill Technology High School)

Stay tuned for our fourth and final Distinguished Site badge tips report coming your way tomorrow!