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beat: A reporter’s assigned area of responsibility. A beat may be an institution, such as the courthouse; a geographical area, such as a small town; or a subject, such as science. The term also refers to an exclusive story. News Reporting & Writing (Eighth Edition) by the Missouri Group. Copyright 2005. Reproduced by permission of Bedford/St. Martins.

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Two teachers attend high school journalism conference

Ken White
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Oct. 17, 2005

Two Las Vegas teachers, Sarah Probasco and Jayme Moreland, were among 149 teachers from 41 states and the District of Columbia to attend the fifth annual American Society of Newspaper Editors High School Journalism Institute.

Probasco, a teacher at Del Sol High School, spent June 5-17 at the University of California at Berkeley, while Moreland, of Desert Pines High School, attended the Institute July 10-22 at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

The Institute recruits teachers in urban and rural areas where journalism programs are "under stress," according to the ASNE. That includes schools with minority student populations of 50 percent or higher.

A 2004 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English at the University of Utah, Probasco teaches broadcast journalism, English and arts and humanities at Del Sol. This school year, she was given the added job of teaching journalism.

"I had no clue (about teaching journalism), so this gave me the opportunity to learn," Probasco says. "It was pretty intense. We had to publish a newspaper online, so we had to suffer through what our kids do."

Participants studied journalism topics and attended skills workshops.

The Institute has helped her teach classes "a great deal," Probasco says, plus she received a box of books from the Institute, including texts on newspaper layout and design, that have helped her in the classroom.

"Writing is writing, and I can teach students that, but the design books were a big help," says Probasco, whose students recently produced the first issue of the Del Sol student newspaper, the newsletter-sized Dragon Dispatch. Only one of her students had any journalism experience.

One of 20 participants in her group, Probasco went on field trips to the daily newspapers the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee to get an inside view of how newspapers work.

The Institute also gave Moreland a lot of valuable information and experiences that she has been able to take back to her high school journalism students at Desert Pines, she says.

"I was feeling very desperate, feeling that I didn’t know what I was doing," says Moreland, who has been a teacher for nine years but is in her first year of teaching journalism.

She spent time with other attendees at the Akron Beacon Journal learning " everything from newsroom vocabulary to what goes on in newsrooms."

Moreland’s day began at 8 a.m. and ended at 9 p.m., with only one day unscheduled. She had to write stories on deadline and put together a portfolio of her work. "I was expecting it to be intense, but not as intense as it was," she says.

The Institute "gave me structure for my class and structure for the kids," says Moreland, who received a bachelor’s degree in literature and a master’s degree in education in 2000, both from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. "We have a newsroom structure with editors and writers. It gives them an idea of how a newsroom works."

Her experience studying newspaper layout and design also was helpful in putting out the Desert Pines student newspaper, The Prowler.

"The Institute really, really changed my focus," Moreland says. "It will impact what I do here."

The Institute also offers follow-up help to attendees, including paid memberships to the Journalism Education Association, an independent national scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers; the teacher’s state or regional scholastic press group; and the Student Press Law Center.