What should a School Council Journalist do?

Samantha asked us:
“Hello Everyone!
I am the School Council Journalist, so please may I have some advice about my role?”

In your role as a journalist we think there are a number of things you should be thinking about what will make your colleagues at school want to read about what other students are doing. Your pieces shouldn’t read like announcements, but should be exciting and interesting. Read through your current school newsletters, mark articles that you find interesting and those that you find boring. Get your friends to do the same. Talk about what makes an article interesting or boring.

Here are some things that often help:

  • People like reading about their friends, so make sure you write about as many different people as possible. If you featured someone last week, feature someone from a different year and friendship group the next week.
  • Surprising headlines make people read the article. If the headline makes you say, ‘what?!’ you’re likely to read the article to find out if it’s really true.
  • Using interesting photos. Close ups are often best, they make people look more closely. Most pictures in a school newsletter are of people holding up a certificate, so don’t use those. Have something different and eye-catching.
  • Tell us what has changed. Make it clear what students have managed to change in the school or community. Loads of people come up with ideas, we want to hear about people who are doing things go round to each of the Action Teams and ask them what they have achieved this week. Pick the ones who have made the most impressive change (this will help them to move forward too).
  • Use quotations. Use the words of the people involved, quote them. “I love writing these emails because I want to give students who’ve put themselves forward a head start into their role,” enthused Asher, of Smart School Councils Community.

Ask the reader questions. If you are writing for a blog or an online newsletter that has comments, this is really important. Think about how you will finish the article and draw them in to conversation. The aim of your articles should be to get more people excited about the difference they can make in their school, so you could focus your questions around that: What would you like to change? When was the last time you made a difference to your neighbours?

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