By: Kate Hayashigatani
We all know and love our school newspaper, the beautiful and glorious The Dragon, but what goes on behind the scenes? How do our favorite articles get published? I visited the students who are behind the magic.
The first person I interviewed was the Editor-In-Chief of the web version of The Dragon, Bradley Kishiyama. As the web Editor-In-Chief (EIC), Kishiyama’s job is to look over the articles once they have gone through the section editors and upload them. He described the process for the writers as “sometimes lengthy, since sometimes they have to go through three to four revisions, but it’s actually relatively easy once you get the hang of it.” When I asked what the entirety of an article’s cycle was from start to finish, he summarized the steps as, “First it’s pitched to the whole class. [It] has to be approved. Next it is written by the writer, seen by section editor, then the EIC’s look at it. Next it goes to Ms. Anderson, then it’s posted.” Not all ideas are approved by the class though, some ideas end up being “ripped”. He said his job isn’t too demanding and that he receives help from the Photo Director, Evan Tung, to get pictures for articles.
I sat down with Tung, the man behind the camera. He runs the @the_d.tech_dragon account on the newspaper’s very own Instagram (Be sure to give them a follow). His job as Photo Director is to edit photos for both the website and the newspaper, and helps others take photos for their own stories. His role in an article’s life cycle is to send the pictures that need to be published to Kishiyama. As manager of the newspaper’s Instagram, he is responsible for the iconic #BigJoeMonday (dead meme now). When I asked him how he came up with the genius idea his response was that, “It had all started with a picture of [Joseph Nguyen] on an earlier post and people loved it.” He recalls that a particular student, Max Otake, had commented, “We want more Big Joe!” and the rest was history. The purpose of the Instagram account is to bring publicity to the website so that they can show student work.
Next I interviewed The Dragon’s Art Director, Arthur Yu. I asked Yu what exactly his job entails because many find his job title misleading. He answered that he’s in charge of making sure writers have access to art for their articles. In addition, he is responsible for making sure the website is “nice and nifty,” as well as laying out the newspaper. I wondered if Yu possessed any artistic talent like drawing anime. It turns out that he does beginner illustration, but mostly specializes in design and layout. When I asked Yu how he got his special nickname “Art the Art Director” he became very emotional saying that Bradley Kishiyama, “being the clever boy he is came up with it.” Clever indeed, Bradley.
As many tasks as the editors have to do, it all starts with the the creative geniuses of the newspaper, the writers. I talked to writer and legend, Sophia Li. Her job, similar to the rest of the writers, consists of pitching, writing, interviewing, and getting sources for her articles. Out of all the writers I interviewed, all of them said they experience writer’s block. I wondered how the writers usually find inspiration for their articles. One student in particular, Joseph Nguyen, says, “My ideas usually are from me lying in bed late at night and thinking of random stuff or finding inspiration from others.” Another writer, Max Otake, keeps his article topics true to his interests.
I also got to catch up with Section Editor Ella Rook. As she was clearly very busy, I was a bit hesitant to ask for her time, but she welcomed my questions. As a Section Editor, Rook talks with the writers and goes over their articles with them on how they can be improved or tweaked. To get into specifics, she goes over, “foundational issues, like tone, and if they’re missing sources or quotes.” After both she and the writer approve of the article, they send it to the EIC. In her opinion, the hardest part about being a section editor is communication with the writers, but nonetheless she still loves her job.
After I interviewed Rook, the school day had ended at SMAS, but not for the editors and directors. After a brief bus ride to the Rollins campus, the section editors, EIC’s, and photography and art Directors were back at work for the first ever “Late Night”. The Late Night is a time for the students to stay late, eat pizza, and other goodies and to grind out the newspaper to ship to the printers.
One of my last interviews of the day was with Emily Hom, the EIC of The Dragon’s print edition. As EIC, she reads, edits, and selects stories that go into the newspaper. Many may wonder how a printed article differs from those that are published online. Hom said, “Many articles that are published online can’t be published in the paper because of their graphics.” Also, oftentimes articles published online are more time sensitive, whereas printed articles are usually ones that can be worked on for weeks. As EIC, a lot of responsibility is placed on Hom. She says, “Especially since I’m a senior and all the college apps are totally overwhelming, I am usually doing edits at 1AM, but it’s still really fun and I enjoy it.”
To conclude, I interviewed the founder and adviser of The Dragon, the Dr. Montgomery of the newspaper, the Bill Gates, the Mark Zuckerberg, the guy that founded MySpace, the person who founded Webkinz, the person who founded Minecraft, Ms. Lessley Anderson. As a former journalist and editor, one of the first things she noticed when she first came to d.tech was the non-existent school newspaper. She set out to make one by having all of last year’s Junior English class write for it. This year she has taken a “hands off” approach to running the paper and it’s now fully student run. When I asked what her biggest struggle with the class was, she responded by saying, “This class is delightful and I don’t struggle with anything. If anything this class has exceeded my expectations to the max. I love this class and I love all of the students.” Anderson doesn’t step into the picture when it comes to written articles until the last step of reading the final draft.
My time interviewing the team was very well spent and educational. I learned new vocabulary such as “meta” and had a great time learning how our favorite articles are published. Getting this insight has given me a whole new respect for the newspaper and the time and effort that goes into publishing even a single article. If one thing is for sure, it’s that I would 10/10 do it again and that Writers Workshop, the class where the paper is produced, is a must-take class.