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Wahl to Wall: Students still discovering journalism

Wahl is editor of the Wallowa County Chieftain.

Published on February 6, 2018 4:09PM

The future of journalism is in good hands. I spent a class period last week with Cameron Livermore’s journalism students at Elgin High School.

I discovered their publication back in December when I picked up a copy at an Elgin bank. I was impressed a school the size of Elgin would have a school newspaper. On top of that, it held my interest from front to back. The class also produces a nifty website and is just beginning to venture into video.

The students even raised funds online to purchase a high-quality camera to shoot photos for their publication.

Cameron is an English teacher at Elgin and has some professional journalism background. He’s a native of Beavercreek, Ore., and on Facebook describes himself as a “teacher, writer, reader, motorcyclist, board rider, dog walker, cat herder.” I contacted him, and he invited me to stop by and check in with his students.

In addition, I wanted to pick his brain on a project I’ve been noodling since I arrived in Wallowa County almost a year ago.

I have talked with all three of our school districts about creating a community journalism program that would publish a combined school newspaper and website in the county. The idea received a good reception.

Then time caught up with me. My new plan was to organize something for Jan. 1, which has now come and gone. So Plan C is for debut next fall.

The idea is to expose high school students to writing, editing, photography, page layout, websites, video and everything else that’s part of the journalism world today.

There’s a bit of a selfish motive behind it for me. If I can develop one highly qualified sports reporter from each school, I will be more than thrilled. If we can help even one student find a career in journalism, I will consider it a success. If one of them one day comes back and works for the Chieftain, that would be a win-win.

In sharing the vision for Wallowa County, Cameron said he would like to have his students participate as well. So the concept is growing before it has really reached the drawing board. I guess that’s a good sign.

We are not short on community resources for journalism in the county, so the plan is to put some of the “formers” and “retireds” to work. There’s nothing like spending a few hours a week with high schoolers to give you a new outlook on life.

You can check out Elgin’s work at huskytracksjournalism.com or pick up a hard copy of the student newspaper at several spots in Elgin.

THIS WEEK’S cartoon on this page is by an artist you have never seen before in the Chieftain.

Some weeks back, Heidi Muller called to my attention a cartoon she had found online that promoted the idea of why we need libraries. Heidi has been a worker bee in the effort to see a library district formed in Wallowa County.

She wondered if we could reprint the cartoon. They’re usually fairly heavily copyrighted, so I didn’t hold out much slope.

Heidi put on her Sherlock Holmes hat and did some sleuthing. She found Chris OBrion on Facebook and sent me the details.

I contacted Chris, who graciously allowed us to reproduce the cartoon. He says of all the cartoons he’s drawn in his career, this one receives the most requests for reprint.

Chris has drawn a weekly freelance editorial cartoon for the Roanoke (Va.) Times since 2007. He has been staff cartoonist at three newspapers on the East Coat.

Our thanks to Chris for his generosity. I hope you enjoy the cartoon.


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