To say that the internet changed the face of news is a major understatement. And, like many newspapers, the student-produced Mayfield Crier has endeavored to make the transition from a print-only news source to a hybrid media outlet. Although the production team had been dipping their toes in digital waters since before 2015, they made the choice to focus on print, as these monthly publications were already a major undertaking. Plus, handing out physical copies after assemblies, and being able to share in the excitement with classmates and teachers, was an unmistakable thrill for everyone involved.
Despite the emotional toll of the abrupt shift to remote learning in spring 2020, the Crier staff realized that this crisis was also an opportunity for growth, and advisor and journalism teacher Kimberly Gomez saw it as a unique chance to finally create a robust online paper. Ms. Gomez knew the students were up to the challenge, saying, “We have a motivated staff who stepped up for leadership roles.”
The overhaul of the existing website was no easy feat. Managing Editor-In-Chief, Grace Sandman ’22, explains, “Over the summer, we spent a lot of time on YouTube and the SNO (Student News Online) website to learn how to insert media elements like photos and videos, design website pages, and find ways to promote the website as a whole.” She adds, “It was definitely a trial and error process, but in the end, it was worth it.”
Social conscience is front-and-center with the reporting and editorial team in this iteration of the Crier. Instead of hyper-local issues related to campus, which were the mainstay for the print edition, the online version has a more global approach—with articles covering racial injustice and world news such as the devastating blast in a central Beirut port. Several current articles focus their attention on the November election.
There have been both surprises and challenges for everyone. No longer constrained to a firm word count, the team has been enjoying this chance to explore longer-form journalism and columns. This also means a lot more potential for artwork, photography, and embedding easy links to other resources too. But Grace Fontes ’21 explains that the amount of screen-time during this pandemic is no small issue for students. “We are online for several hours a day for school and continue to have to work online on the Crier, which can be pretty taxing,” she says. Nonetheless, Grace sees a lot of benefits too, adding, “I’ve really enjoyed getting to see the process…(of) what it takes to truly run a publication online.”
Mia Maalouf ’22 has noticed the way the online platform doesn’t just change how she writes, but what she writes. “In the past, I didn’t pay attention to the readers and what they would respond to,” she admits. “But now that I am able to analyze their receptiveness, my articles are targeted towards a specific audience which I think makes them stand out!”
Ms. Gomez explains that the “real-world practical lessons” of this new form of the Crier are proving limitless, and she can hardly keep up with the content the team is producing. “The students are on fire!” she says.
Established in 1931, Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, CA is a Catholic, independent, college preparatory school for young women grades 9-12. Noted for its rigorous academic program, which includes 21 Advanced Placement and Honors courses, Mayfield’s curriculum is underscored by a philosophy of educating the “whole child,” which also encourages commitment to and excellence in the arts, athletics, community service and spiritual growth. The nurturing environment at Mayfield Senior School allows each student to flourish in an atmosphere of personal attention.