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Another Victory For One Of ‘Our Kids’

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Diana Hadley

Rachel McCarver, IHSPA adviser board member from Columbus North High School, shed a few tears when Victoria Ison was named Indiana Student Journalist of the Year at the annual IHSPA First Amendment Symposium in March.

It’s not unusual for teachers to become emotional when “their kids” win awards. However, Victoria isn’t from Columbus North. She represents Bloomington High School North where she has been Ryan Gunterman’s kid for the past four years.

Seven other outstanding student journalists were recognized as finalists in a tough competition the night Victoria was honored. How tough? Tough enough that Victoria has also been named Journalism Education Association’s national student journalist of the year.

There is no question that placing such an announcement in the third paragraph is an example of a “buried lead”—except that part of the message is that it’s an exciting day for all of Victoria’s families— biological, Bloomington North—and her IHSPA family. When our students succeed we all celebrate

Speaking of buried leads…Victoria’s adviser started the celebration at the end of last week when he and Liz welcomed Vivian Hazel, their new little Gunterman.

Our IHSPA family is happy about that event too.

After all, they are all “our kids.”

More Resources:

•Click Here to see the full story about Ison written by Wayna Polk of JEA.

•The following essay was written by Victoria Ison as a requirement for her “Student Journalist of the Year” portfolio.

Victoria and Ryan

By Victoria Ison

The notebook was white with little angels on it and had the prettiest paper I’d ever seen. I picked it up carefully, grabbed my mom’s hand, and towed her to the K-mart checkout counter where, for $4.99, a gum-smacking teenager rang up my future.

Geneil Ison purchased that journal for her five-year-old daughter expecting to see no more than 20 pages of it used, and that much only if she took the book and some crayons to Sunday church and let me draw.

She didn’t know that the angel journal would be the first of eleven notebooks her daughter would fill before graduating high school, or that my love of journal writing would translate to a love of journalism, a high school obsession and, ultimately, a career.

It started small, of course. Like when I was nine and bored: after interviewing every relative in my grandparents’ house, I retreated to the computer in my aunt’s bedroom and emerged two hours later with eight copies of my first publication. “The Carter Times” was published off and on for more than two years and received great critical acclaim, though it never left the house.

Then, the summer I was ten, an uncle called me over to his picnic table and handed off his new digital camera. I point-and-shoot puttered around past the borders of my family reunion and all over the state park that day. Every backyard barbeque and family get-together since, somebody’s camera finds its way into my hands.

At 13, after a lot of urging from the extended family, I signed up for journalism when I started high school. That’s when I learned that there were names for all the hobbies I had at home and that, no, I hadn’t invented the rule of thirds. I went whirling in a world of anecdotal leads, nutgrafs, subheads and picas. I was learning interviewing, ethics, AP style, etc. It was paradise.

Then came newspaper, which is a class, but also an extracurricular activity, a part-time job, and a husband. I have hated it with the passion that belongs only to someone working hard and struggling with something she loves. I have stayed up until 3 a.m. finalizing spreads and preparing presentations to share with would-be staff members. I have shamelessly donned my Fused t-shirt and press pass and purchased two dozen donuts at 6 a.m. for the staff breakfast. I have chased story after story, interviewed kids and adults from all walks of life, typed my fingers raw and remained at Starbucks until they threw me out.

I have done all this, and I have never really intended to be a journalist.

That is, until something happened a few months ago.

It’s free period and I’m in the newsroom again. Sprawled out on a rug, I sort through a big brown box of magazines, searching for emulate-able design examples to show the staff. Except I’m not getting much work done, because every story lead, even the ones in Wired, catches my attention. I feel this prickle of jealousy, wishing I could write like that about even toilet engineers and obscure tech gadgets.

And then I cock my head and scrunch up my eyes in what I am told is my characteristic thinking pose and stop reading. Because I realize that probably one day I could write as compellingly as that, and what’s more I want to. Right then I decide—or perhaps, admit—that what I want is to be a journalist.

This revelation was a long time in coming, I think because I always held this idea that journalism was about packed press conferences, flashing camera bulbs, a thousand outstretched microphones straining to pick up a sentence or two from a source. And in a way, it is.

Journalism is very much Woodward and Bernstein, CNN, the New York Times. It’s big, bad cinematic glamour—but it’s also storytelling, sweet and simple. It’s writing about the kid whose friends host a charity soccer tournament to pay for his cancer treatments, or the teacher who drives 50 minutes to work every day for 20 years and still can’t stand to retire. Journalism is that kid at the park taking pictures of her family. It’s that girl in K-mart, the pages of an angel notebook precious already in her hands.

I do not know everything that journalism is, or everything that I am. But I know that the two have always been intertwined. And I’ve figured out that if I want any peace in this life, I’d better be a journalist.

Categories: IHSPA News