Staff hopes to strengthen publications during virtual learning

Despite distance learning, we will publish a news magazine this semester.

The Pearl Post and Prestige Yearbook staff meet through Zoom during period 5 on Aug. 25.

As the world around us continues to adjust to a new pandemic reality and a drastically different virtual learning format is implemented this school year, The Pearl Post staff plans to work diligently to strengthen our publication despite lacking face-to-face interaction. 

This new school year has started off through an online structure, with frozen screens and poor WiFi connections consuming our class time. In addition to this new online format, Principal Pia Damonte decided to transfer to another school, causing another administrative change to Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) after formal Principal Deb Smith retired only a year ago. 

To prepare for this unusual school year, our staff editors met virtually over the summer to brainstorm and set goals. A virtual format will expectedly cause a shift in the way our staff communicates. Instead of bouncing ideas off of each other in our newsroom, we must adjust to virtual communication. By using applications like Slack, we plan to keep consistent communication between our staff members to ensure a cohesive publication.  

Our objective is to increase our social media presence because it will be our only form of connection with DPMHS students and maintain strong communication with our staff. We also hope to gain support from our new principal and deal with any issues that might surface as a team to ensure a stronger journalism program. 

Last year, we experienced a lot of trial and error as we switched from a newspaper to a magazine format. As a staff, we designed a completely new format and successfully produced three magazines throughout the year. Our school year was cut short due to the coronavirus and we began producing online content exclusively in March. With issues in consistency and meeting deadlines last year, we hope to improve our magazine design this year and produce a magazine every month, which will be posted on Issuu. 

Our staff this year consists of many returning editors who will help guide new section editors with designing and editing. Our publications rely strongly on visual elements so working strictly from home will be a challenge. With an added barrier to photography availability due to the pandemic, we hope that our staff writers will strengthen their infographic and multimedia skills. We also hope that the DPMHS student population will contribute visual content and cooperate with our staff. 

Looking back on last year, we went in with ambitious goals for the website and magazine that we just weren’t able to reach. We were coming off being recognized with an Online Pacemaker for the website and Best High School Newspaper at the Los Angeles Press Club Awards so we went a bit overconfident. For most of the first semester, communication between editors and staff writers wasn’t where it needed to be and as a result, much of our content fell behind schedule. For the website, in particular, each section wasn’t having new content posted on a regular basis and sometimes a few weeks would go by without new content for certain sections. As the year went on, however, our workflow and the quality of content we were producing improved dramatically even with the pandemic forcing us to work from home.

Our primary goal for the website this year is going to have to be to constantly have new content on as close to a daily basis as we can get. Much of our content will have more of a focus on being directed for the web as we navigate through at least this semester from our homes. Something that we really hope to continue from last year is the number of great stories we had that ended up on Best of Sno at some point because it is a great barometer to see the level of quality our content is at. 

Although we know that there are going to be a number of challenges for us to overcome this year more than ever, we are extremely hopeful that we can put together high-quality content for the entire school year. We are confident in the staff we have this year and are looking forward to making a great year regardless of the current circumstances.