I’m adviser Mark Webber, and this is my newsroom…

What is your name?
Mark Webber

What school do you teach at?
Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts

What city and state is your school located in?
Laredo, Texas

What different media are produced at the school?
The Magnet Tribune print and online newspapers, Tapestry literary magazine

How many students are involved at the media program at your school?
50 in journalism/online media, 12 in literary magazine

Describe your space for us.
The school moved to a new, state-of-the-art campus 3 years ago that included really awesome facilities for our various communication and fine arts programs. Specifically for students in the print and online newspaper program, this means a 900-square-foot classroom and a small adjoining room with lots of space to spread out. We now have appropriate furniture for our computers, lots of storage space, and use the small adjoining room for a separate class/work area and a studio for audio productions such as programs and podcasts, and to edit video when needed. During one class period, our space is also occupied by students in the literary magazine program, so for that 90 minutes it’s really rocking! We also have access, when needed, to a state-of-the-art television studio used by the broadcast program, and their audio studio. (Our facilities at our original campus, which opened in 1993, were quickly outgrown and were beyond woefully inadequate when we moved to our new campus in 2015.)

What do you think are some of the benefits of the workspace you all have?
There are many benefits to our space. For one, in the main classroom we have a lot of space for 23 computers, with plenty of space for additional computers whenever we’re able to get them. Students also have room to work at two tables that are away from the computers. The main classroom easily handles my 5th block, when both journalism/online media students and literary magazine students are scheduled. They really make the place rock. In our auxiliary room, there are counters on three sides, plus enough room for a long table. It doubles as our audio studio when we create programs and podcasts, and the workstation easily handles video and audio editing needs. The rooms are well lit, and we can control the lighting when we use the overhead projector or just want to have less light. Two big windows allow lots of natural light. To me, it’s a happy space. This year’s seniors who were freshmen at our former campus remember the cramped conditions and buildings that were in bad need of repair.

What do your students like most about the workspace you have?
Students like that it’s a special space for their programs. We have enough computers so that each student has his/own, there’s lots of space for tables to do non-computer-related work on, and that we have the auxiliary room that doubles as our audio studio/extra class space/editing studio.

What computer programs and/or apps is your staff using on a regular basis for their work?
We use Microsoft Word, and Adobe CC products InDesign, Audition, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro. We have Microsoft Office and other Adobe software available, but these are the ones we use.

What tech equipment are your students using on a daily basis?
We have one Canon 80D (which we received this fall), one Canon 60D, two Canon T3, and two Canon Xs cameras, plus the kit lenses they came with. Two years ago I received some new lenses through Donors Choose to replace some that were worn out. We also have 21 HP desktops, two iMacs, and one HP Z840 workstation. In addition, we have two Canon VIXIA camcorders, plus two shotgun mics and tripods. For audio we have an Alesis 8-channel mixer that we plug into the workstation, headphone amplifier, and four Shure SM-48 mics. We have 5 Olympus digital voice recorders. Our scanner is an HP ScanJet 4850, which doesn’t get much use nowadays. We also have a three-light photo lighting set. For printing we have one Brother black-and-white laser printer, plus an Epson Artisian 1430 color ink-jet cartridges, for which we just received funding from Donors Choose for more cartridges. All of this is a result of 25 years of effort, so far, in working to get adequate funding for equipment for the students to use.

 Aside from the computers and the programs, what are one or two pieces of equipment that you have that you think other programs should have.
Our digital audio recorders proven their worth on many occasions. As the years have passed I’ve noticed students are coming to high school with ever weaker note taking skills. The recorders really help in ensuring students have accurate information, and especially accurate quotes in their stories. Something else that has proven invaluable are buying video cameras with jacks for external microphones and headphones. We have two shotgun mics we use with our VIXIA camcorders. Even though the camcorders are point-and-shoot, the mics add quality audio that really makes the videos stand out.

How is your workspace funded?
The district has equipped our classroom with computers loaded with Adobe and Microsoft software, and black-and-white laser printers. I’ve gotten some of my cameras from the district, and others through CaTE (Career and Technical Education). Additional lenses were obtained through Donors Choose. Our color ink jet printer was funded through CaTE, and I’ve just found out that two sets of ink jet cartridges will receive funding through Donors Choose. Our audio equipment, digital audio recorders, tripods, and photo light set were funded through the district. I purchased and donated our two shotgun mics, plus SD cards whenever we are in dire need of one or two.

Do you have anything on your wishlist for your space? If so, what do you have and why?
Additional computers, more DSLR cameras, and a few large-capacity external storage drives would be at the top of my list, along with a few SD cards. On the very top of my list is a server that I’d share with my colleague in broadcasting.

(This is one of a series of posts where high school newsrooms are showcased. We’d love to showcase your newsroom on the site. To find out how, check out the information here and submit yours today.)

Aaron Manfull

Aaron is in his 26th year of advising student media. He is currently the Director of Student Media at Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Missouri. He is the Journalism Education Association Digital Media Chair and co-Director of Media Now. He is the 2023 JEA Teacher Inspiration Award Winner and is a former Dow Jones News Fund National Journalism Teacher of the Year. He is one of the authors of the textbook "Student Journalism and Media Literacy." You can find him on X and Instagram @manfull. He's a proud father. A transplanted Iowan. And an avid Hawkeye Fan.

Aaron Manfull has 868 posts and counting. See all posts by Aaron Manfull

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