The evolution of a Sacred Heart journalist

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Sarah Jackmauh ’15

 

Evolution graphic
Sarah Jackmauh ’15

“A beam of light comes down on stage.”
This cheesy and clichéd sentence was the opening of the first article that I ever wrote for the King Street Chronicle. Publish date: October 1, 2012. Despite this lede and an unoriginal photo (which I was asked to retake multiple times), this article about Taylor Swift began my journey as a Convent of the Sacred Heart journalist.
I signed up for journalism class not even knowing that Sacred Heart had a newspaper (sorry, Ms. Larson). My beginning classes were fraught with confusion and stress – what is a lede? What is a nut graf? Why am I taking this class?
With the addition of journalism, I had no frees in my sophomore schedule and was looking for some breathing room. But, I decided to take the challenge.
I was lucky enough to be part of the generation of journalists that revolutionized the KSC. In 2012, we shifted the newspaper from its monthly print format to a constantly updated, streaming online edition. I soon became a pro at SchoolPress and understood that ledes should not be lyrics to Taylor Swift songs but should actually contain substantial information introducing the article.
Sophomore year flew by. I published several “riveting” pieces, including “Best and Worst Christmas presents” and “Fresh faces seize Grammy nominations.”  After this extreme display of what I considered “talent,” I took the risk and then applied to be the Features editor for my junior year.
Come 2013, I was nominated to be a personal columnist for the Greenwich Post newspaper, covering the editorial section “Growing Up Greenwich.” For me, this was a turning point. Ms. Larson and my sophomore year teachers saw that I could handle being a journalist and they gave me the opportunity to bring my words to readers beyond our school. Sure, my level of writing was incomparable to The New York Times editorialists Nicholas Kristof or David Brooks, but hey, at least I was trying it. Sacred Heart gave me the freedom and independence of self-expression through a contemporary medium.
In my final year, I was lucky enough to earn a role on the editorial board along with four of my classmates. Although editing and fine-tooth-combing each article was a daunting task, I learned to embrace my duties and hand down tips to the next generation.
Journalism isn’t like Senior Seminar or English class discussions. It is a completely different style of writing. There is no need for an “although, in fact, because” format (sorry, Mrs. Vasu) and it is meant to be short and sweet. It’s easy, one-stop reading. But, it’s also the most prominent form of modern day expression.
Sacred Heart journalists are able to filter the school news and funnel it into a readable, enjoyable format. We are the view into the Sacred Heart community, and we represent the inner life of our school.
The best way for any individual to become a better writer is by reading stories from other writers. Editorials, news articles, features stories – they all complement each other and give readers the methods to develop their own voices.
Journalism has provided me with a sense of independence as a writer and an individual. I was able to find a voice as an editorialist, a reporter and a young woman.
Like any class, journalism is not about what students study or what they can memorize. It is not the tools that make the student better – it’s the ways in which the students’ apply them.
Covering a Taylor Swift song? Easy… just don’t use clichés.
So thank you, King Street Chronicle. You not only gave me a keyboard and a Style Guide, but also a voice.
– Sarah Jackmauh, Content Editor