5 Things to Remember When the Yearbook Receives Criticism

5 Things to Remember When the Yearbook Receives Criticism

It’s that time of year when news organizations insist on doing stories on horrible/controversial/silly content in yearbooks. Keep in mind a few things before you judge:

  1. Yearbooks were made by human beings, most of them teenagers. There will be errors.
  2. Just because one parent calls the news station/newspaper with a complaint does not mean the content is controversial or is causing a problem at school. That complainer probably didn’t even contact the school principal or the yearbook adviser first. Going straight to the news media gets you noticed more easily, but doesn’t require hearing a different perspective or explanation from the people who created it.
  3. And speaking of the adviser, that person is also a human being. Despite their best efforts, they can’t catch every error or hidden dirty reference they don’t get because they are not teenagers and they may not recognize every stupid gesture a kid makes in an effort to be “funny.” And trust me, whatever you find to complain about, the adviser will worry about 13,000 times longer than you.
  4. Put yourself in the adviser’s shoes. Everything (and I mean everything) their students create will be made public for everyone to criticize. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be held accountable for errors, but being in that public position is harder than anyone imagines sometimes. A traditional teacher doesn’t have to show individual students’ work to anyone, let alone paying customers.
  5. A yearbook is first and foremost a history book. And history is full of stupid people doing stupid things. Some of those things are bound to end up in a yearbook. Have some perspective.

Stepping off my soapbox now.

Kathy Habiger

Yearbook Adviser
Mill Valley (KS) HS

Kathy Habiger has survived 20 years (that's 20 yearbooks!) in this crazy adviser business. She is a frequent convention and workshop speaker, mostly because she likes hearing herself talk. The JAG yearbook is in the NSPA Hall of Fame and has been consistently featured in Ideas That Fly. In her free time, Habiger drives her daughter to volleyball practice, takes her dog Buddy for long walks and loves to read non-yearbook books.
Kathy Habiger

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