The Business Side of Media

The Business Side of Media

by Steve Gamel

It’s hard to believe that what started with six old computers in an empty closet has grown to an award-winning team of journalists, photographers, videographers, editors and more, but then the Argyle High School Talon Staff is no ordinary group of students. Luckily for them, Stacy Short, their advisor, is no ordinary teacher.

“We built everything from scratch,” said Short who was asked to begin a newspaper at Argyle High School in 2010. “We printed 8 publications a year on an old Publisher program and grew from there.”

When Short came to teach at AHS, she already had a strong background in media. She spent a great deal of time in her youth working with her uncle who was the editor in chief for the Weatherford Democrat. She also had several years experience working at a large ad agency in both inside and outside sales before becoming a teacher. Armed with a knowledge of the media industry that isn’t taught in books, she set out to not only teach what she knew, but to allow the students the freedom to bring in new forms of media.

Matt Garnett, who has since graduated, started building the Talon’s website his freshman year. Once the website went live, print was gradually cut and eventually a broadcast was added in 2015. Despite the shortage of funds, Short has found creative ways through grants and the Argyle Education Foundation to make the best of the equipment they could afford.

“We only have one working microphone for two anchors, no teleprompters and sometimes we have to use our cell phones for lights,” said Lauren Landrum, a junior and the broadcast director. “Hopefully we can get an updated green screen soon, too, but we make it work.”

That’s an understatement. The news broadcast, despite being staged in a storage area and using inferior equipment compared to most high schools, has received several awards for its work including best of show in the nation for NSPA in only their first year in production. In addition, the Talon staff has gained over 2,000 Twitter followers including other news services and sources dependent upon them not only for stories but for pictures and videos as well.

In addition to scheduling students to various events, editor in chief Chris Piel manages the photo gallery where the Talon staff places their photos for online purchase. Short has made it a point to teach these kids the business, and that means not giving away their work.

“All of these students are doing something valuable and it’s important that they value their work as well,” said Short. “They go to several state events acting as official photographers for other news services and it’s important that they get the credit they deserve.”

Short has made it a point to teach the students to aggressively network with other journalists and agencies, learning everything they can while adding to their own portfolios. Their achievements have translated into college and beyond as the students have gone on to find success. They are also eager to share their experience with each other. Short has established a mentoring system among the staff, which has become a tradition at the Talon.

“We’ve learned to be aggressive and competitive but most importantly, we work as a team,” said Short. “The legacy that the Talon has established of students teaching students is invaluable.“

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