Yearbook & Newspaper Staff Applications

If you’re able to handpick your staff, a detailed application is a great way to screen candidates. 
 
With your application process, you are looking to accomplish a few things: 
 
  1. Communicate expectations. If they’re not willing to fill out the application, they probably won’t complete their assignments next year. Not finishing your homework only affects you, but not finishing your spread, means someone else has to do it.
  2. Preview of their skill set. If you have an intro class, you will probably already have an idea of who is interested in being on staff next year. If you’re growing your program and need to recruit students, be sure to ask your English and Art departments for nominations. Then, you (and/or your staff) can personally invite them to apply. I had quite a few student who joined this way because “journalism” wasn’t an elective they ever considered, but they ended up loving it.
  3. Prevent slackers. You are looking for students hard working, involved on campus, understand the commitment, and complete their course work.

    I also look for kids who “need a home” on campus. They may not have any other extra-curricular activities and being on staff gives a built-in friend group. 

The applications below are pretty extensive because I have many kids apply and limited space on staff (limited # of computers.) The application also served a weed-out process. 

Know that your application can be MUCH simpler, especially if you are in the recruitment phase of growing your program. 

CURRENT STAFF MEMBERS

I do not make the current staff members reapply – if there was someone who I felt wasn’t working well on staff, that calls for a private conversation.

However, this is a good time to survey them about their plans, as well as gather feedback about how to make improvements for next year.

what to include in your yearbook and newspaper staff application

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Welcome Letter
  • Staff Descriptions
  • Commitment Disclaimer
  • Copy of Staff Agreement

PART 1 – CANDIDATE INFORMATION

  • Name
  • Grade Next Year
  • What staff do you want to join? (Rank preference)
  • Next year’s classes
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Do you expect to work at a job after school next year? [YES] [NO]
  • Do you or will you have a car/license (by August)? [YES] [NO]
  • Late Work Night Info
    • Will anything hinder you from staying after school if needed? [YES] [NO]
  • Prerequisite classes taken
  • Why do you want to be on staff
  • Summer Camp Info
    • Is there anything that would prohibit you from attending camp?
  • Rate Your Skills
    • Writing for school
    • Writing for fun
    • Graphic Design
    • Photoshop (or photo editing)
    • InDesign
    • Photography – Shooting
    • Photography – Editing
    • Organization
    • Meeting Deadlines
    • Having Fun

PART 2 – PHOTOGRAPHY

Take photos for the following assignments. Only one photo is required for each assignment but you can take more if you want. 

The more creative you are with your photos, the better. Part of journalism is looking for unique perspectives of everyday things. Think outside the box, don’t be afraid to submit something too crazy. I’m looking to see your photography skills as well as how you interpret these prompts. Remember, on staff we cover students (not events or buildings, etc.), so including people in your photos is important.

You can use a point-and-shoot camera, DSLR, or your phone to take the pictures. Edit how you feel makes the best photo. You can include a description so you can explain your interpretation, but it is not required. 

  1. The school
  2. High school relationships
  3. Pets
  4. Sleep deprivation
  5. Day in the life of a high school student
  6. Fashion Trends
  7. Sports
  8. Practice
  9. Outside of school activities
  10. Your choice – description required

PART 3 – WRITING

Answer the following prompts. Journalistic writing is very different than writing for an English class – use the attached guides for help, especially if you have not taken Journalism 1. 

  • STORY/ARTICLE – You’re a staff writer for the school newspaper and you’ve been assigned to cover clubs. Write a 300-word story about the club of your choice. Include quotes (these can be fake) from key people as well as any relevant information student may need to know about the club.
  • CAPTIONS – Write a caption for the following photos. Make up the subject’s name, quote, and any information you would normally gather through an interview.
    • include 4 photos from your current year

PART 4 – INTERVIEWING

You’ve been assigned to cover Homecoming in the yearbook. Remember how important it is to feature what makes this year different and interview questions should not be set up for yes/no answers. 

  1. Write 5 questions to ask the king and queen
  2. Write 5 questions to ask the band
  3. Write 5 questions to ask the football team
  4. Write 5 questions to ask the drill team
  5. Write 5 questions to ask the Student Council

PART 5 – TEACHER RECOMMENDATIONS

  • English teacher – good to survey their performance in a core subject, and writing is so important to success in student journalism
  • Any subject

what's next?

Celebrate! You are creating a culture from Day 1 when you announce who is on staff. Send your current staff into the newbie’s class with a little welcome gift, a balloon, and their letter with the good news. Public praise is so important and makes them feel part of the team before they even know they made it on staff.

If you have room on staff and someone really wants to try publications (and their application is complete) I say let them join. The application is more about following directions than it is about figuring out who to cut.

There are other reasons to deny applicants, and unfortunately, sometimes there just isn’t room for everyone. If you need to make tough cuts, here is a letter to break the news gently.

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