In Good Company

The official SNO Distinguished Sites symbol. The award is given to online newspapers that have gone above and beyond to meet their standards.
The official SNO Distinguished Sites symbol. The award is given to online newspapers that have gone above and beyond to meet their standards.

Striving to be one of the best student publications in the nation was something that seemed near impossible for the Cain Live newspaper staff. After all, this was their first actual year with a functional program and a staff of more than 2 writers. However, they decided to set aside all odds and pursue success for their online newspaper as they climbed up the leaderboard, surpassing hundreds of other schools across the country.

With over 360 other school publications participating in Best of SNO‘s yearly rankings battle, Cain Live had a lot of competition getting to where they are. Currently, they hold the number nine spot on the entire leaderboard, and the staff knows they’ll keep moving up.

“[The hardest challenge was] trying to cover so many topics in such a small amount of time,” reporter Tonia Bloomingberg said.

This has apparently taken a lot of time and effort for them, and they’re ready to keep striving for even higher standards. Bloomingberg is impressed with how much they’ve done over the past months.

“I felt relieved but I knew that the work wasn’t done yet,” Bloomingberg said. “We still needed to make our site better.”

Accumulating the Badges

With six total badges required to receive before qualifying to be given the title as a “Distinguished Site”,  they had to work for months in order to earn each one of them. Some of the badges include Continous Coverage, Writing Excellence, and Audience Engagement. There were weeks where they had to keep track of their consistent deadlines and focus on getting interviews.

“I think the biggest challenge was trying to do a story or two every week and trying to get all the stories in on time,” reporter Douglas Pham said.

Even when the badges got rejected, that didn’t stop the staff from trying over and over again. They kept submitting and revising their work making sure their articles were better than the ones before.

“It’s a lot of hard work and it takes time but with time comes experience,” reporter Sariah Penn said. “You learn from your mistakes.”

A Word From the Adviser

The journalism teacher and publications adviser, Jacob Elbert, has guided the different branches of the department in the right direction with his extensive background in mass media and graphic design. He’s brought Hurricane Journalism together from the ground up and been there to help out in any way he can.

“The whole point of student publications is teaching you guys to be savvy consumers and producers of media,” Elbert said. “It’s about student content and forcing you to branch out and take risks. I’m just here to help you make a game plan, it’s your job to put the wheels to the pavement.”

He’s reportedly been guiding the staff and helped brainstorm the articles and ideas. Elbert is proud of the achievements and acknowledgments the reporters’ work they’ve put in.

“It’s surreal to think about how far Hurricane Journalism has come in such a brief amount of time,” Elbert said. “To think that the newspaper was a floundering program with 2 staffers 12 months ago, and to now look at a roster of 13 heading into next fall with a SNO Distinguished Site title is a testament to this staff’s work ethic. You guys are just unreal.”

Maintaining an Exceptional Publication

Being an extracurricular activity, the organization calls for students to put in the time and work to complete quality work and produce articles and photographs. With only a staff of seven, it was sometimes a challenge being able to keep track of news or happenings in the school. However, they kept a daily functioning newsroom with a steady pace and constant track of content being produced.

“I think it has grown very exponentially,” Pham said. “We’ve grown in size as well as done more content.”

The online newspaper has gotten the attention of not just the school and administration, but higher officials in the district. They’ve been impressed at what the staff has accomplished in little time. Cain Live staff hopes the program will continue to grow.

“I think it still has more potential to grow both staff size and content-wise,” Pham said. “I look forward to seeing that.”