The week before Spring Break isn’t usually the most energetic moment of a staff’s school year, but ours was bursting with enthusiasm about a new method we adopted for brainstorming story ideas using Google Docs.
For beat reporting, we previously used both a chart in which we all wrote copious notes while students reported information about their beats, which took two days, and a handwritten grade sheet on which students basically repeated themselves.
Now, with access to a shared report on Google Docs, students can simultaneously create a report on which we either handwrite a few additional comments or highlight things we want to remember, eliminating at least one day of the process.
I thought students were lukewarm about Google Docs after a brief experiment earlier in the semester in which I invited them all to a document on which they could share their funniest moments in newspaper. After their initial resistance to change, new ideas have sprung up that even the graduating staff are amenable to learning.
Some of our plans include adding a chart for reporting advertising updates, photo deadlines, storyboarding, staff applications, and editing. Without my prompting, my text editor uploaded the first rough draft for our next issue to edit it via Google Docs.
Using Google Docs really is a way of, if not to revolutionizing the high school newsroom, economizing it.