Good News by Good Journalists
Writer / Janelle Morrison Photography / JJ Kaplan
Carmel High School’s award-winning student newsmagazine, HiLite, has recently been named a Crown Finalist from Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA). Crown Awards are the highest recognition given by the CSPA to a student print or digital medium for overall excellence. HiLite has been distributed to Carmel students and faculty every month since the mid-1930s and has a circulation of 4,500.
HiLite, like many of Carmel High School’s academic and athletic programs, has received multiple awards over the years for its standards of excellence. The publication is a member of the Indiana High School Press Association, Quill and Scroll and the National Scholastic Press Association.
Jim Streisel, HiLite advisor and communications teacher, spoke about his students’ achievements and how the publication continues to evolve with the prevalent dissemination of news via social media outlets and the ever-expanding online universe.
“I’ve seen the publication go through its iterations over that time,” Streisel said. “At the time, we were bi-weekly, broadsheet and publishing 16 issues a year. In 1996, we launched our website, HiLite.org. We were one of the first websites in the world. In 1995, there were about 20,000 websites worldwide. The students update it every single day, and we have online editors who are responsible for providing daily content.”
Teaching responsible and ethical journalism practices is essential to running a trusted and award-winning publication and is something that Streisel and his editor-in-chief, Manahil Nadeem, do not take lightly.
“We want to make sure that we are right, not always first,” Streisel emphasized. “First is not always best. Being accurate is always best. Being both responsible and accurate are two things that don’t change. The thing about social media is that most kids have social media. Whether they use it a lot or a little, they all have access to it and/or are using it. As an educational system, we don’t do a lot to teach kids how to use that properly.
“What I talk to these kids about is they’ve got to get out of the idea that their social media is for them, personally. The word ‘social’ is in it for a reason. These kids are all ambassadors of the publication and of other things that they do. If they don’t feel comfortable saying something on the corner of 3rd and Main Street, then they shouldn’t put it on social media. We’re careful about that.”
In regards to being named Crown Finalists, once again, Streisel praised his students’ work ethics and explained how these awards actually benefit the publication in the bigger picture.
“What we’re providing for our readers is a quality piece of journalism,” he said. “I also want our administrators to know that what these kids are doing is quality journalism. The awards are a good justification for kids to continue doing what they are doing and allow them more access down the road. When people know that this is an organization that they can trust, they are more likely to go ‘on record’ and talk about things that they may not normally do with a publication that doesn’t have quite the same reputation.”
Having worked her way up to the coveted editor-in-chief position, Nadeem is also proud of the HiLite staff and her peers.
“The biggest thing in HiLite is teamwork,” Nadeem stated. “We learn from the beginning. If one person fails or makes a mistake within the staff, then it shows poorly on the entire staff. We harp on that a lot, so that is how a lot of our success happens. We work with the weak links within our chain and try to improve them. That’s how everyone improves because nobody wants to be the weak link, so they try to keep improving.
“Being named a finalist is a big honor. We’ve been nominated many times, and we’ve won many times. It’s amazing to be on such a great team. I think the biggest thing with awards is that we don’t actually strive to get these awards; we just strive to do our best work, and eventually, someone notices that.”
To read current issues of HiLite, visit hilite.org.