Tips to create a truly collaborative media team

In a growing trend, I have moved from solely advising a newspaper publication to now advising a newspaper, yearbook, web site and broadcast video team.

Adding yearbook to the schedule can be rough. I know 30 years ago when I was in high school, the staffs did not mix. Things hadn’t changed much when I tried to get them to work together years back. Yearbook lived in yearbook world and the paper team lived in newspaper world.

Over time, I have learned that the clans can be united. Here are a few tips to get your teams to work as one:


Let students sign up for journalism during any production class. Numbers and recruiting combine as probably the most important part of developing a journalism program. To keep my numbers up and get all the best students out for journalism, they can take yearbook during a “news lab” class. At City High, journalism classes are designated as News Lab, Yearbook Lab or Broadcast Lab, but veteran students can sign up for any hour of the day if they have a scheduling conflict.

We also have started adding all students to the staffs of different publications. Yearbook staffers are on the online staff page for the news team and news reporters are on the staff page for the Red and White yearbook. At first, students didn’t like yearbook using their stories or photos, but once they received credit they were happy. This works the same way for yearbook photos being used on the website or in the newspaper.


All of the journalism teams wear one shirt — #littlehawkjournalism. Beyond recruiting, getting a great team T-shirt is probably the second most important task of the year.


To create more of a “one journalism team” mentality we combined the Google Drive shared photo folder for the yearbook and newspaper staffs. This allows for easy access and more collaboration between the teams.


All reporters have regular beats they cover for the different publications. Those short news/sports stories get published on They’re required to have a “real” photo of a school event, caption, quotes and a well-written lead. Those captioned photos also appear on Instagram.

I know some yearbooks don’t release content before the book is published, but we share photos on social media, on the website and in the monthly newspaper. Because telling the stories of the year is all of our jobs.

Jonathan Rogers, MJE
City HS • Iowa City, IA


DURING A STAFF PHOTO SHOOT, Victor Kalil takes Theo Prineas’ photo. Putting yearbook staffers on staff page and Little Hawk journalists on the yearbook staff helped bridge the gap between the two staffs. The media teams shared personnel, resources and content to tell as many stories of the school year as possible.


PREVIEWING THE SEASON, Julianne Berry-Stoelzle and Jesse Hausknecht-Brown interview Athletic Director Philip Hanson to create content that would be used in the newspaper, website and yearbook.


SURROUNDED BY AWARDS, the mantra of “Seek Truth and Report It” applies to all journalism students at City High. In addition to the shared 30-computer lab, there are four machines housed in a common space that is open to journalism students all day, including the photo and video shoot areas.

Photos by Jonathan Rogers

Want more VIDEO?
Get them on their phones!

A few years ago, our teams toured the Washington Post. The first thing they told us was to get teens to read and watch stories on their phones. To do this, they highly recommended videos. The YouTube channel for The Little Hawk has grown during the past five years, but the best example I have seen for yearbooks came from Michael Simons and

“Tesserae, and CPP’s other yearbooks before our merger in 2014, first produced video in 2011, via a DVD included in an insert in the back of the book. It was a simple, six to eight video projects, with students editing in Sony Vegas. We had two to three students working on the project, and they had other print duties throughout the year, too.

Once we merged to Corning-Painted Post High School, our students were more deliberate in creating digital content to accompany the book, particularly in integrating one-minute highlight videos and short interview pieces utilizing the Aurasma app.

The last three years have been our program’s most prolific, with more than 40 videos produced each year by a team of five to seven video-only staff members. They produce short-form sports highlight features, longer journalistic pieces including stand-up interviews, advertisements for our business and marketing team, and a year-end theme introduction video that drops on distribution day. It’s always a favorite and is typically a narration of the book’s theme copy.

The students use Canon Rebels (T6i and T7i), as well as 7D Mark II DSLRs and a variety of Canon and Sigma lenses, along with a Saramonic wireless lavalier microphone set. Content is distributed throughout the year on social media and via YouTube, with some content held until distribution day. I’d estimate that roughly half of the video content goes out within two weeks of the event, and the other half is held for a distribution release. Their website,, links through to the program’s YouTube channel, so there are two paths for our audience to find the content.”