“I was surprised because…I thought that small schools just didn’t win that level of honor,” said Journalism teacher Reid Westrem.
All the hard work of researching and reporting, writing stories, designing pages, and getting the Talon to the press has paid off in the form of an All-American ranking from the National Scholastic Press Association. The paper was scored in different categories such as Writing/Reporting, Editing, Photography, Art/Graphics, Layout/Design, and Desktop Publishing/Technical Production. All-American is the highest ranking the National Scholastic Press Association can bestow upon a high school newspaper. Other rankings include first, second and third class. No other Minnehaha publication has ever won the All-American rank, but has almost always ranked in first or second class.
With a small staff, it can be difficult to cover as much material as a large school with 30 people to spare for any one topic. In previous years, judges have critiqued the Talon for not having enough coverage. This year however, they commended the coverage of in-school topics and noted the success of outside-the-school coverage as well.
“You cover all aspects of academic news: curriculum, teaching, policies, requirements, testing, etc. You also do a great job of covering on and off campus news, even international news. You make sure to include more school-related stories each issue and the relevance to the reader is always clear,” commented judge Anastasia Harrison on the Newspaper Critique Scoresheet.
The critique also cited the redesign of the Talon as a big factor in the ranking, which alumna Olivia Dorow-Hovland (who took on the redesign in the summer of last year) was extremely proud to hear.
“While deciding what a photo credit was to look like was tedious, I knew that that trivial decision would only add to the overall aesthetic of the paper and that was a vision that I was willing to put in hours of work to achieve,” said Dorow-Hovland, now a student at the University of Chicago. “I didn’t want to do this redesign haphazardly because I knew I couldn’t be proud of something that I had started and then consequently gave up on. It was sort of an all-or-nothing project.”
That “all-or-nothing” project has paid off and the Talon has reached a new level of success in journalism.
“In writing stories, students thought first and foremost about their audience, and about what needs to be done, more than what they wanted to do,” said Westrem. “I think that the Talon staff really tries to think about its audience and do something that matters to the school.”