Is being a part of the Smoke Signal an elective?
Joining the Smoke Signal staff means the Journalism class is a part of your schedule. The class and the staff are one. Please be sure you have an available elective in your schedule in order to be eligible. Most applicants are rising Juniors, but we do admit rising Sophomores and Seniors. We do not admit rising Freshmen.
For the 2021-22 school year, the Journalism class will be expanded in size from one class period to two, and will be exclusively during second and third period. If you are interested in becoming a part of our staff, please make sure you have room in your class schedule.
How does the Smoke Signal operate?
Although we are MSJ’s official school newspaper, we are independent in that we publish our content without administrative review. We begin the monthly cycle by choosing stories for each respective section, which are News, Opinion, Feature, Centerspread, Arts and Entertainment, Sports, Photos, and Web. Students then interview, conduct research and write several drafts. Finally, pages are finished and turned into the printer a few days before you all get to see it! In the virtual world, we still follow our monthly cycle, but instead publish our stories online on our website and on Facebook through the month.
How much work does the Smoke Signal entail?
Work in the Smoke Signal is cyclical. Usually, more work falls on the staff writers in the first two weeks of each monthly cycle as they draft their stories and the editors are busier as they prepare pages in the second half of the cycle. A staff member of the Smoke Signal can expect their workload to be the equivalent of taking another class.
Do writers get to choose what they want to write?
Yes and no. In the beginning of a cycle, staff members bring in potential story ideas, editors decide on stories, writers pitch for the stories they’re interested in writing, and editors assign writers to stories.
Do you only admit writers to join the staff?
While first-year students are staff writers for all sections, we also value the skills of photographers, artists, and designers.
Where does the Smoke Signal receive the money for printing?
The Smoke Signal is a completely self-sustaining business. Besides writers and editors, we have managers that help run the newspaper; the ads managers are in charge of corresponding with local businesses. The money we receive from advertisements provides the money for printing.
How can I apply for an editor position?
Students may apply for editor positions at the end of their first year of journalism in a separate application process.
What should I write on my class registration form?
You will not receive your decision by the time registration forms are due, so please write in another elective and add a side note: “will drop for journalism/Smoke Signal.”
What should I consider before I apply?
Make sure you have room in your class schedule to take one period of Journalism. The journalism class makes up the staff of the Smoke SIgnal. If you are interested in joining both journalism and Yearbook, please note that you can only apply to one.
How many students will you be accepting?
We hope to add 49 journalists this year.
How many people usually apply?
This number is not released, it differs every year.
How many rising sophomores will you accept? How many rising juniors? Seniors?
Our process does not depend on grade level. Our second and third period classes contain mixed levels of first-year, second-year, and third-year students. We look at individual skill sets rather than the grade level.
What advice do you have for applicants?
Firstly, when filling out the application, make sure you read and understand every part of the application. Confirm that you have the time and effort available next year to take this class, and do not apply for both journalism and Yearbook. Provide complete answers and make sure that all artwork/photography are inserted within your application PDF.
If I do get in, can I just write for one newspaper section?
All writers will write for every section of the paper.
What kind of applicants is the Smoke Signal looking for?
We want somebody who has a solid writing foundation but that does not mean we only accept AP or honors students. We look for applicants with a wide variety of skills and qualities. There is no one ideal applicant.
Who sees my application?
Only the graduating seniors will be viewing applications.
What kind of format should my application have?
This year, all information must be typed directly on your copy of the application Google Document and submitted on time as a PDF.
Can I submit my artwork?
You are encouraged and welcome to submit any artwork, but please make sure the image is sized appropriately to be inserted into your Google Document.
Does everyone receive an interview?
Unfortunately, not all applicants are given an interview.
How hard is the class?
We do plenty of fun bonding activities, but we also work hard. It is a front-loaded class, and the first couple of months will be especially difficult.
Can I directly apply to be an editor?
No, everyone who is accepted enters the class as a first-year writer.
Can incoming freshmen apply?
No, incoming freshmen are ineligible to apply, but we encourage students to apply as rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
Never be afraid to ask questions.
Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions! Best of luck!