Helping the next generation of journalists

Newspapers can be one of our greatest learning tools. I am convinced three things taught me how to read: The Berenstain Bears, Little Golden Books and newspapers.

One of my earliest memories is from when I was 4 and my older brothers would spread the sports pages of The Dickinson Press and Bismarck Tribune out on our kitchen table so I could read basketball box scores.

A few years later, one of my favorite parts of Mrs. Rita Greff’s sixth-grade classroom at Regent Elementary was her newspaper clippings board, where students could read snippets of the newspaper that Mrs. Greff felt pertained to us. She would clip out The Press and Tribune for us to read. If we wanted to claim the clipping, we were to write our initials on the clip.

At New England High School, I was recruited by Mike Schatz to write football stories for The Herald weekly newspaper. That morphed into writing during basketball season, which turned into a part-time job at the newspaper for three years, and eventually into jobs at the Minnesota State Moorhead student newspaper and The Forum before returning to The Dickinson Press after my college graduation in 2006.

In total, I’ve worked in the newspaper business for 13 years. I turn 30 next month.

I started young and a new generation of journalists do the same today in the pages of The Press.

Today is the debut of the Titan Times, a student-produced special section and first of its kind for our newspaper.

The Titan Times is a four-page pullout inside the B section that was produced by the Trinity High School journalism class. Janel Schiff teaches the class and John Odermann, a former Press reporter who is now the development director for Dickinson Catholic Schools and Trinity’s head football coach, serves as an adviser.

The Titan Times, which is scheduled to appear in The Press the last Saturday of each month, is exciting not only for us but for the students as well.

“We’re really excited to create an opportunity for future journalists to learn the craft and learn about our industry,” Press Publisher Harvey Brock said.

With the assistance of Schiff and Odermann, the students will be writing their own content, taking a majority of their own photos, creating graphics and drawing cartoons. It truly will be a student-run newspaper that we believe will grow into something our readers look forward to each month.

The section can together when Schiff approached Press Advertising Director Rob Eilts, whose children attend Trinity schools, about finding a way to partner with The Press and work with her journalism class. Out of this, the Titan Times was born.

“This is a great opportunity for the students to build on their journalism skills and make a great product for the community,” Eilts said. “My hope is that this will be a template for other schools to use to build a great product with their students also.”

Press Production Supervisor Jeremy Kadrmas, a 2003 Trinity graduate, and I helped get the ball rolling earlier this week by setting up the page templates. While many students had their stories written in advance, they had only three days to put the section together for print.
“It has been great working with our friends at Trinity High School in getting this new section off the ground,” Kadrmas said. “Everybody benefits from this. Our readers are getting more local content and the youth at Trinity are contributing directly to their their hometown newspaper.”

While we professionals are accustomed to creating a newspaper every day, three days is an incredibly quick turnaround for four-page section created by high school students.
The Titan Times staff and their advisers should be commended for what they have accomplished and we know they will learn from this first issue and improve each month.
We hope you enjoy reading it.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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