Over the past few years, duPont Manual High School’s newspaper class has slowly been evolving away from being a “news of the school” paper to delving into deeper issues and writing long-form articles.
This year, under the new leadership of teacher Liz Palmer, the team is taking a big leap. The new On the Record magazine will be a Louisville youth culture publication, covering stories that are of interest to students from all across the city. Palmer advised that change, but the editors made the final decision.
duPont Manual is the city’s journalism and communications magnet.
For the last few years, Palmer also has taught Manual’s yearbook class, which produces the school’s award-winning yearbook, The Crimson. Columbia Scholastic Press gave the Crimson a Gold Crown award last year.
Palmer said RedEye — the online Manual digital news site helmed by her husband, James Miller — already does the job of covering sports, arts and academics in real-ish time. With the old Crimson Record newspaper that came out monthly, you’d be reading about a game that happened last month. (Disclosure: Palmer and Miller occasionally contribute media criticism to Insider Louisville.)
Instead, On the Record will be a glossy news magazine. The first issue will have 48 pages. Ads for the publication sold out, and there’s currently a wait-list.
The first run will be 1,000 copies, but Palmer sees a distribution of 10,000 in the magazine’s future. Why so optimistic? This isn’t Palmer’s first youth magazine rodeo. In 1996, when she was just 19, Palmer was the founding editor of Brat, a youth culture ‘zine that ended its run at 10,000 copies. Brat offered a critical youth look at culture and politics.
People involved with the ‘zine, including Palmer, became the go-to voices for local media when it came to youth opinion. Palmer hopes On the Record will become this, too.
Avalon Gupta Verwiebe was co-editor-in-chief of the Crimson Record last year and is now the creative director for On the Record. “I honestly saw the Crimson Record moving toward this type of publication,” she told Insider.
Manual students have the chops to handle deep issues. Articles in the first issue include: gender identity in sports; students with refugee status; a look at Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump’s fringe campaigns; and a profile of a student with a mother with cancer.
Senior staffers Josh Jean-Marie and Chris Roussell recently earned the first place Story of the Year award in the Feature Story category at the Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association (JEA/NSPA) conference in Orlando. The feature was “No Home for Homework: Examining child homelessness within JCPS,” a deep dive into how students handle school and homelessness. The piece appeared in the May edition of the Crimson Record.
The pair also won the $1,000 Brasler Prize for best story out of all the first place Story of the Year awards. Here’s the Manual RedEye story on additional Manual wins at the conference.
Jean-Marie is now the On the Record co-editor-in-chief. Erin Woggon is the other editor-in-chief. Jean-Marie also something of a wunderkind — although I’m sure he’s not the only one on staff. He still visits children at the homeless shelter each week. He’s a senior class officer and did an internship at VIA Studio, where he was mentored not just in design and photography but in leadership. He’s a young man who wants to major in elementary education.
The relationship between Off the Record and VIA Studio doesn’t stop there. Designers from the studio have visited and mentored the design team for the publication. And Jean-Marie is using the skills he learned at VIA to design the publication’s website.
On the Record was set to go to print last Friday, but Palmer and the team want to get it right. When I recently visited, she had just asked for a total design overhaul, demanding the designers take more advantage of the fact that this is now a magazine format and not a tabloid newspaper.
They plan on having four issues a year, including one during the summer.
“It’s a huge victory to get this to print,” said Palmer.
The magazine will be available at Manual and at coffee shops and other places teens congregate citywide. Follow them on Twitter.