Veteran advice round 2 – the forgotten essentials of being a great leader and editor for your student publication

Blue Valley Northwest student editors hold up their icebreaker celebrity cards during a student-led warm-up at the Jayhawk Media Workshop on Tuesday, June 13. Consider asking your student leaders/editors to guide a few intro/warm-up sessions to lead the school year to showcase their new leadership and connect with new staffers in the room this coming school year.

We’re back from the Jayhawk Media Workshop at the University of Kansas! I got the chance to talk to new and veteran advisers from the Sunflower State to pick their brains on their best advice, guidance and tips for incoming editors and student leaders for the upcoming school year. Here’s what they said:

Adviser Susan Massey
School: Shawnee Mission Northwest High School (Retired adviser)
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Yearbook Theme and Planning and Leading a News Team instructor

“Remember that your adviser can crown you, but that doesn’t make you an editor,” said Massey. “The only person that can make you an editor is you through your actions and through the example that you set.”

Adviser Barb Tholen
School: Lawrence High School
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Writing and Editing instructor

“Leaders are less focused on themselves and more focused on the team. Sometimes good editors are individually really talented people and that’s what gets them elevated, but it’s not exactly what makes them a good leader,” said Tholen. “Being a good leader is less about what you can accomplish and what the people around you can accomplish.

Adviser Spencer O’Daniel
School: Maize Career Academy
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Leading a News Team instructor

“The best editors don’t just leave behind plaques, awards and their names on the wall of your journalism room. They have spent time showing the next editors and leaders how to walk the walk, along with talking the talk,” said O’Daniel. “They spend time asking others how they are doing and giving feedback on how to improve. They have created products, systems, and ideas that last beyond their time in your program. This is how you leave a legacy after you graduat

Adviser Julia Walker
School: Olathe West High School
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Yearbook Design and Copy instructor

“My tip for a good leader is to have empathy and get to know where your staff members are coming from and taking the effort to get to know them,” said Walker. “When somebody is struggling on staff and instead of assuming the worst, editors have empathy and lift others up.”

Adviser Jim McCrossen
School: Blue Valley Northwest High School
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Photo Awesomeness instructor

“Leadership is all about giving, it’s not about taking. It’s not a position where people are supposed to worship you,” said McCrossen. “Leaders tend to say ‘do what I tell you to do’ without it just being out of the good of my heart that I want to help you.”

Director of Media Crossroads Cal Butcher
School: William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Reporting with Video and Multimedia instructor

“Any good leader; don’t ask your team to do anything that you wouldn’t do yourself. You may not know how to do it, but you need to be willing to do it or do it with them,” said Butcher. “Never ask your team something that you’re not willing to do.”

Adviser Becky Tate
School: Shawnee Mission North
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Yearbook Theme and Planning

“Be the leader that leads by example by being the first in the room, last one out,” said Tate. “By reaching out to help someone, by never working on any other class during your student time in that class and never yell at anyone. You lead with kindness, always.”

Kansas Scholastic Press Association director Eric Thomas
School: William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications
Role at Jayhawk Media Workshop: Director of the Jayhawk Media Workshop

“Don’t try to cover an entire gigantic issue in one story. Try to chop it up into small, 500 words or less stories,” said Thomas. “If it’s that big of an issue, you shouldn’t write 3,000 words on it and dump it on your audience. They aren’t going to understand it, or accept the change you’re advocating for. Instead, make a long-standing commitment to covering it instead of this dump of huge ideas on their head.”

Spencer O'Daniel

Spencer is in his 12th year of advising student media at the high school and college level. O'Daniel currently serves as the Associate Director of Student Media at Texas A&M University, where he advises The Battalion newspaper and website, Maroon Life magazine, and The Aggieland yearbook. In his limited free time, he enjoys being active and outside, spending time with his two sons, and wife Jenna. His students have won over thousands of individual awards over the past decade, including a team KSPA state championship, collegiate photographer of the year, All-Kansas publications, Pacemakers and STN's Broadcast Excellence Award.

Spencer O'Daniel has 17 posts and counting. See all posts by Spencer O'Daniel

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