Newport Harbor’s Journalism elective is run and facilitated by Alex Goodman. He guides the students with personal and academic experience to create the Beacon, the school’s news magazine. Students learn how to write in multiple styles, including news articles, Q&As, and columns. But the magazine also depends on students taking photographs, drawing illustrations, editing articles, and designing layouts. Goodman spoke with the Beacon’s Cagney Sweeney about what sets Journalism apart.
CS: What elective class do you teach?
AG: My elective is the class titled Journalism. It’s actually one of three classes that we have that are related to journalism. The other two are Video Production, [which creates] TarTV, and Yearbook. This class produces The Beacon, which is our student news magazine.
CS: Why did you choose to teach this class?
AG: I have loved journalism for a long time. In college I joined the student newspaper; I was a writer and editor, and I loved it. I got the chance to interview lots of people, including Jason Derulo and Maya Angelou. I was a very shy person before, and interviewing people was very nerve racking but I ended up loving it and thought that I was going into that as a career for a while and ended up teaching. After a few years I was able to bring journalism back to Newport Harbor.
CS: What kinds of students would enjoy this class?
AG: Obviously students who enjoy writing, they would enjoy the writing portion. But you don’t have to write primarily. There are a lot of different things that go into making a magazine. So I think students that enjoy talking to people would enjoy the interview portion. People who like taking photos, people with visual arts skills for illustrations and people who enjoy graphic design, to design layouts for the articles. And people who are social, working in groups, people who like having individual projects, people who are artistic and creative.
CS: What is a typical day in your class like?
AG: We start every class with a warm-up, where I share one to three pieces of journalism that have come out recently that I think are interesting because of the content or the journalistic techniques used. We talk about that for a few minutes, then the rest of class is for students to work on whatever project they have.
CS: What kinds of work are students expected to do outside of class?
AG: We get as much as we can done during class, but if you are reporting an article a lot of that takes place outside of class. Interviews with students and staff might have to be done outside of class as well. Or taking pictures at a certain time. Usually there isn’t too much outside-of-class work.
CS: What kinds of feedback do you get from students about this class?
AG: My favorite thing is that I have had several students tell me they wanted to do journalism as a career now because of this class.
CS: How can students get a good grade in your class?
AG: Meeting deadlines. Because it is a free-form class where different people are working on different things, it’s less structured, so if students aren’t on top of their own work it can get away from you. So students should keep themselves organized and on track with those deadlines.
CS: Are there any prerequisites or skills needed to take this class?
AG: Any student is welcome to sign up for this class. If students happen to have experience with journalistic writing, photography, or graphic design, that is great, but you don’t need to come in with any experience whatsoever. We will train you and make sure you know what you’re doing.
CS: What benefits would students obtain from taking this class?
AG: You learn specific skills like interviewing, it forces you to interact with people and learn how to ask questions. The ability to work in a team is really useful. And teaches you to keep up with deadlines.
CS: Is there anything you specifically want to let students know about this class?
AG: I think sometimes people get intimidated about the idea of interviewing people, but I can tell you, as someone who has been very shy for most of my life, that it gets easier and gets really fun.