Four Howell High School students were category winners in the 2012-2013 Individual Newspaper Contest, a statewide student newspaper contest held by the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association. The students are in Ms. Luann Haskins’ Advanced Journalism class, which produces the Main Four, HHS’s student news publication.
Senior Megan Isom and junior Natalie Dunn received an honorable mention in the Division 1 Pro/Con Editorial Columns category for their point/counterpoint editorials favoring and opposing the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.
Senior Danielle Risacher received an honorable mention in the Division 1 Sports Feature category for her story on athlete Hallie Utter.
Junior Natalie Dunn also received an honorable mention in the Division 1 Review for her critique of the movie, Les Mis.
Junior Amber Carnahan received an honorable mention in the Division 1 Personal Narrative for her story on her trip to England.
MIPA is a service organization founded in 1921 that is dedicated to working with teachers and students to enhance student media. It is housed in the School of Journalism at Michigan State University.
The Main Four is an online publication found at howellmainfour.com. On Mondays, a one-page weekly edition of the Main Four is also printed in the B section of the Livingston County Press and Argus.
The Main Four publication exists to keep students connected and in touch with their surroundings. But Howell High School’s news publication also exists to help further and craft the journalistic minds of ambitious writers. Many talented students have allowed their skills to blossom in the Main Four newsroom.
The only question that remains is this: What happens to all of those aspiring journalists when they graduate? The answer to that critical question is pretty amazing.
Design Editor: Rebecca Turchanik (2007)
“If I look back at it, things I did in the Main Four are tasks I have to do daily here,” says Turchanik, a former design editor for the Main Four.
Where exactly is here?
“I’m living in Shanghai working for a Swiss owned major media company, Ringier,” adds Turchanik. “It produces four English language magazines for foreigners living here.”
Turchanik attended Aquinas and Grand Valley, and she also worked on the Aquinas school newspaper, The Saint, for a year. She explains that she dropped journalism in college, but realized later that she gave up too easily.
“I still don’t always know what I’m doing,” Turchanik says. “It doesn’t really get that easy after high school, knowing who you want to be. The trick is just doing stuff you have a passion for.”
And Turchanik’s passion is almost unmatched. Working for Ringier in Shanghai, as well as doing public relations for the Girl Scouts Council, Turchanik spends much of her time promoting and thinking outside of the box.
“If writing or anything related to journalism is what you want to do, keep going,” Turchanik says. “Half the battle of getting a journalism job is you have to be willing to fight for it.”
Editorial Editor: Samantha Grasley (2009)
“Network, network, network,” says Grasley, former editorial and news editor of the Main Four.
Grasley is currently attending Michigan State University and will be receiving her degree in Zoology in May. She says that she intends to apply for veterinarian school, and she credits a lot of her work ethic back to her days on the Main Four staff.
“It helped me understand the importance of deadlines, time management, and persistence,” says Grasley. “It helped with my brainstorming and outlining skills while developing a paper. The Main Four staff gave me the confidence to approach people with questions and be curious about things around me.”
Grasley also talks about how being part of a journalism class has helped her realize that networking is incredibly important, not only for writers, but for anyone interesting in pursuing a career that involves impressing other people.
“Make a binder of every story you’ve written, every picture you’ve published, every page you have designed. Use it as a working resume to show people when you apply for jobs or have interviews.”
Sports Editor: Jacob Kanclerz (2008)
“The Main Four was where it all started…my first taste of journalism,” says Kanclerz, former sports editor of the Main Four publication.
Kanclerz has a long list of successful ventures. He graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He also took an internship with the Columbus Dispatch for six months and now working as a reporter with The Newark Advocate, also in Ohio. Kanclerz had a hand in running the school newspaper at MSU, and won four journalism scholarships.
“I’m most interested in a career based around reporting,” says Kanclerz. “I’d like to cover public affairs, the government and political issues, but I’m open to any compelling and important topics. I’d like to work for a large print or online-based publication.”
Kanclerz knows the ins and outs of the journalism world, and he explains that it is difficult to find a job involving reporting. He describes getting a degree and finding employment ‘an accomplishment in itself’. However, he explains, it is more than possible for someone who is dedicated.
“If you really love journalism and you work very hard, there will be a job for you. But you have to earn it.”
Editor-In-Chief: Jenna Birch (2010)
“I didn’t even know that I wanted to write until I was on the Main Four,” says Birch, a former editor-in-chief of the Main Four. “I took journalistic writing on a whim in my freshman year and I decided from there that I really loved writing.”
Birch works as a freelance writer. She is a student at the University of Michigan, and while she isn’t involved in journalism through the school, she currently writes regularly for around eight publications. Writing about a variety of women’s interest topics like health, parenting, and relationships, Birch knows how to word her writing in order to get an audience’s attention.
“Take what you learn from the Main Four and from high school and apply it however you need to,” says Birch. “Because it’s always going to be changing and it’s always going to be what you make of it.”
Birch recently wrote a story that involved interviewing magician David Copperfield, an accomplishment that is huge for journalists. Her story will be published in a magazine, and it probably won’t be her last big story either.
Birch also wrote a story for Womensday.com about marriage and cheating that was recently referred to on the morning television show, The View. (Video below)
“My love for writing flourished at the Main Four,” Birch finishes. “And I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it weren’t for that experience.”
Staff Writer: John Galubensky (2009)
Journalism can help you become so many things, and that includes an engineer.
“My year on staff helped developed skills of knowing what right questions to ask and how to approach people,” says Galubensky, a former staff writer. “Along with being able to organize thoughts and transfer them into a report that accurately describes the project I had completed.”
Galubensky explains that he was a third-year summer intern at General Motors. He is most proud of his chance to be published in the Livingston Press and Argus while on staff at the Main Four.
“I am constantly in a sea of numbers, graphs, and charts,” says Galubensky. “But being able to properly convey thoughts clearly to a design team or engineering team is something not every engineer has, and I thank the year I spent on staff for the Main Four more than anything for that.”
Editor-in-Chief and Business Manager: Kelsea Raether (2008)
“The number of opportunities I had to be involved in while in high school,” says Raether, “and the skills I was able to present after graduating were rewards beyond just learning to write.”
A graduate from Michigan State University, Raether is currently working in sales and business, but ultimately wants to pursue a career with NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
“Writing is only the beginning of what journalism is,” says Raether. “Learn to accept criticism and red ink marks because they will only make you a better writer. The most important advice I can give though is to stay involved, and always be a part of a writing organization, and to get as many internships and as much experience under your belt as you can.”
I suppose I hadn’t started out on the greatest of terms with Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Although I doubt he remembered that I was the one he asked to watch his laptop while he tied his daughter’s skates before a game at the Novi ice arena, it was now my turn to confront the Stanley Cup champion coach again.
This time in a press conference.
The journalist part of me started out fine. “Coach, I noticed you guys were working on the power play a lot during practice. I was just wondering what things you were doing to try and get that going again?”
Then, the fan in me came out.
“I know it’s been kind of slumping the past couple of games.”
Babcock’s face turned serious. “Well, I don’t think that’s true,” he replied, which was enough to make me sit down and give the microphone up right away. Lesson learned: choose your words wisely.
It was one of the many lessons I learned at Red Wings High School Journalist Day on March 8.
The event, put on by Christy Hammond and the Red Wings’ public relations staff, was designed to give aspiring high school journalists a glimpse of what the media environment is like for a professional sports team. A group of around 70 students made the trek to Joe Louis Arena to take part in question and answer segments and watch the team practice.
After registration, which included an official arena press pass and a packet full of Red Wings stats and information, Hammond introduced the first panel, featuring Jennifer Hammond of FOX 2, Kevin Allen of USA Today, Ken Kal of 97.1 The Ticket, and Bill Roose of DetroitRedWings.com.
The group provided insight into the media world, with a slant toward the Detroit sports scene.
“It’s a new experience each and every day, and it’s a job you can really express yourself in, be creative, and have fun while doing it,” Kal, radio voice of the Red Wings, said while talking about his job. “A lot of people think that the radio guys, the TV guys, the writers, just show up an hour before the game and broadcast the game and go home, but that’s not the case at all.”
The four member panel shared their advice on what it takes to break into the business. Each panelist worked in a different media field, which made their opinions especially valuable.
“You won’t survive in this business unless you’re willing to compete,” Allen said. He is a national hockey writer and is the current president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. “You want to be better than your competition. You got to find a way to be different so that people want to read you.”
Roose, who feels that “more and more folks are going to leave the traditional news room to work for teams,” also shared some advice for the group of students.
“You have to be accurate. You have to spell player names right. You probably should get two sources to confirm your information before you post it. Speed is a necessity, but accuracy should be before speed.”
Kal agreed with that assessment, saying, “Make sure that when you finally get that story out, that you have that right information.”
Working for FOX 2, Hammond’s job changes daily, which is why her minors in English and journalism are so important to her success. Passion and determination led her from taking a job for free just to get a talent tape out to covering sports for one of Detroit’s major TV stations.
“If you have the passion, it will fuel you all throughout your career,” she said. “Be willing to do whatever it takes to get there, even if you have to take a step back or sideways to get to the ultimate goal.”
While each of them took a different path to reach their goals, the principles needed to achieve their dreams echo the atmosphere that the winning tradition in Detroit created: hard work, determination, and passion.
Nobody understands that more than Coach Babcock and General Manager Ken Holland, who were the next panelists after a tour of the Joe Louis press box and the opportunity to watch practice.
Though I only asked one question, the two blended their answers with sharp attention to detail regarding on-ice events and how experiences the team goes through can be applied to life.
Babcock talked about how he tried to “open doors” for himself at a young age, which led to many chances to succeed.
“I wanted to be successful, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but if you keep opening doors, you open opportunities for yourself,” he said.
A successful hockey coach (the only coach to win an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship gold medal, and a Stanley Cup), he would make a very good life coach as well.
“As long as your doubts are momentary, that leads to a speed bump to get you going a little bit faster and working a little harder,” he said. “People are dying to help you if you have the courage to ask.”
Star forward Henrik Zetterberg, big-hitting defenseman Niklas Kronwall, and 400-game winner Chris Osgood were the players to take part in a question and answer session. The players talked about winning the Stanley Cup, the team’s biggest rivals, and pranks pulled on other players during their time with the team, to much appreciation.
“It’s not the game that’s stressful, it’s the leading up to the game that is,” Osgood said. “Thinking about what could happen are some of the things you have to get out of your head.”
Hammond, the community relations coordinator, and Rick Bowness, the public relations coordinator, also answered questions from the group of high schoolers.
The experience and lessons learned throughout the day cannot be measured. Rarely is an opportunity available to learn more about the profession you’ve expressed serious interest in, especially in a setting like the one the Red Wings created. It was more than a taste of the environment I hope to work in one day.
Hopefully I’ll be asking better questions, too.