Our publication's coverage is only as strong as the credibility and breadth of our reporting, so I am always looking for ways to improve the quality of our stories from the moment they are pitched. From coaching staff members on interview skills to implementing source diversity lists to furthering my own reporting while attending the Iowa caucus as a student journalist, I am constantly strengthening my reporting as an individual and within the publication.

Pitching stories

All story ideas are pitched on a single spreadsheet with different pages for each section, print issue, package and social media coverage. I receive automatic emails when reporters and editors leave comments and oversee that ideas are approved in a timely manner and have all columns filled out. This year, I added a mandatory column where reporters must explain why the story matters to our audience. With this addition, every single story directly relates to our community from a localized angle, and we have increased our coverage of school news and captivating profiles of community members. 


When I think about diversity in reporting, it is not as simple as the topics that are covered or getting "both sides of the story." Our school community is richly diverse, and our reporting must accurately reflect that. I established source diversity as an absolutely essential part of the writing process, and created this source list – including regular reminders in class for editors to update the list every few weeks – to ensure that as many student voices are represented as possible.

Interview etiquette

When I mentored reporters in the Beginning Journalism class, I worked with them on transforming closed questions to open questions – beginning with the 5 Ws or How – and shared my template for drafting interview requests to ensure that we maintain a strong relationship with the community and continue to receive responses to emails. I also always keep my reporting notebook on hand to show anyone whose expresses even a subtle interest because I strongly believe that taking notes by hand – or in tandem with a voice recording – enhances a journalist's connection with their subject and transforms the interview into a flowing conversation.

Section lists

With new articles and multimedia pieces being posted every day, I oversee that every section – News, Features, Opinions, Culture and Sports – regularly updates its section list that shows the content and progress of each article. This way, it is easy to catch gaps in reporting early on. For example, I may notice that Sports lacks coverage of the girls teams, or that News is missing a significant upcoming event. When I was the Lead Culture Editor, I separated articles into opinion-based and interview-based content to ensure that we varied our coverage from week to week.

Reporting at the Iowa caucus

On January 13, traveled to attend the Iowa caucus with a selected group of student journalists through a KidUnity program. I had the opportunity to attend political rallies for all of the Republican candidates and watch the democratic process unfold at a voting megasite on the night of the caucus.

As I was standing in the area reserved for the press, clutching my reporter’s notebook and hoping that a Nikki Haley supporter might be willing to be interviewed, I realized that these grand, broadcasted political events really come down to connecting with people and discovering the anthropological angle that keeps a campaign going. Through engaging with voters who held opinions and beliefs from all sides of the political spectrum, I was fascinated to listen to people’s stories and learn about why they sided one way or another on huge national issues. In December, the Department of Homeland Security reported that 225,000 migrants crossing the southern border were taken into custody, the highest figure ever recorded in a single month. I am continuing to follow the campaign trail from afar and research how both parties are planning to address immigration diplomacy as it continues to come to the forefront of candidate rallies. In Iowa, I also had the opportunity to speak with CNN’s former Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin and gained insight on how to approach bi-partisan reporting on highly polarized issues.

Tackling AI

This past summer, I read extensively about how publications were navigating their use of AI, and also heard attended a lecture at Northwestern's Medill summer program on how AI is shaping the future of journalism. Thus, I wanted to establish one policy that the entire staff could follow and ensure that all work was student-produced. With reporting, I recognized in the policy that AI can be beneficial for brainstorming ideas or interview questions, although these are both skills that the editors also work on with reporters. All reporting is completely student-driven, and reporters may not gather information from generative AI because it would constitute cherry-picking information that defeats strong counterarguments.