Responsible Reporting

Reporting? Isn't that just for newspapers and broadcasting? applies to yearbooks, too! While you may not fancy your staff as "reporters", that is exactly what you're sending them out into the world to do: report.

When publishing a high school yearbook, equal weight should be placed on both journalism and photojournalism. It's easy to get lost in the imagery of your yearbook layouts: big beautiful photography that tells a story in itself. It's not enough! Those images need a well-written piece of journalistic magic to fill in any gaps there may be. In today's social climate, it becomes increasingly important to report accurate and pertinent information to your audience. What your audience (student body) is looking for in their yearbook is, essentially, a volume of your school's history. So, how does one decide how to caption photos or choose information for features? It's called news judgement.

News judgement is a phrase used to describe the act of vetting a news story and judging whether or not it's of importance/novelty to your audience. Those journalists said to have good "news judgement" are inherently good at delivering the type of story their audience wants to read at the right time in the right tone. Because, let's face it, if a publication misses the mark, people will notice and in the age of social media with terms like "fake news" being tossed about, it's best to not take any chances.

What should you consider when choosing how to report on a year-in-the-life of your school?

Timeliness - is the feature you're considering pertinent to the year in question?  This is particularly important for those that lay out their yearbook using a chronological format.

Novelty - is the story as rare as it is entertaining? If the answer is yes to both, your story will deliver on more than one level.

Conflict & Consequence - does your story deal with two or more opposing sides? As long as equal coverage is given to all sides and your story reads without bias, stories of rivalry are of high interest to many audiences. Following up the story with the outcome or consequence completes your news circle. In a publication like a yearbook, interviewing people from the opposing sides during and after the conflict is the most complete and thorough way to cover the story. There is no "next issue" to follow up in, so don't leave your readers hanging!

While there are many aspects of reporting to consider while choosing content for your yearbook, these are solid initial guidelines to follow. A great place to look for more journalism curriculum is the Journalism Education Association. JEA provides advisers the tools for teaching students responsible and effective journalism. With a JEA membership, teachers have access to a well-thought-out curriculum written and curated by industry professionals.

Taking the opportunity to not only organize a bunch of photos with captions on pages, but to actually report on the happenings of your school year will make publishing and distributing your yearbook not only fun but oh-so-rewarding, as well. Deliver a piece of history your staff can be proud of!

Keeping Things Interesting

Yearbooks are, by definition,  a record of the year. An annual publication containing statistics, commemorating school activities and student accomplishments. A history book of life at your school, during a period of time.

Of course, the goal is to make the yearbook interesting and engaging. In order to do this, the yearbook staff’s job is to combine both fact and entertainment. The big question is: how?

One foolproof way to add interest is to include as many people as you can onto the pages of your yearbook. This means not only triple checking that a photo of every person in the student body is included, but also adding those ‘student interest’ pieces that are going keep pages turning. These shouldn’t be full features, but mini-interviews or surveys. They don’t need to take up much of the valuable real estate in your book, consider them a 'high-interest page filler'. Using a PIctavo Snippet to contain the information creates a great design package that you can use on any student page.

How in-depth you’d like your student interest pieces to be is entirely up to your yearbook staff. Some questions are suited for both an entire school survey OR a “man on the street” style photo and answer. Others will require more lengthy answers and each package will only allow for a single interview subject to be represented. We’ve created a few examples to get your creative juices flowing!  


People love to answer questions about themselves. Use survey results to fill in a Pictavo Snippet. Shown above: S1010N

People love to answer questions about themselves. Use survey results to fill in a Pictavo Snippet. Shown above: S1010N

Ambush interviews are great for that entertainment factor we've been mentioning. Keeping subject matter light and fun will ensure that students will want to be interviewees!  Pictavo Snippet used above: S1249N

Ambush interviews are great for that entertainment factor we've been mentioning. Keeping subject matter light and fun will ensure that students will want to be interviewees!

Pictavo Snippet used above: S1249N

Being able to get content for your yearbook from the student body not only keeps your yearbook accurate, it also gives readers that 'day in the life' reality that is indicative of the time. Make your interviews casual and fun. In doing so, your replies will be conversational and real. Survey questions should be multiple choice so creating infographics is easy and straight forward.

Still looking for more ideas? The Snippet pages of the Pictavo Design Guide are loaded with more ideas. Take a look and get inspired!


2015 NSPA Yearbook Pacemaker Winners Announced at the Spring National High School Journalism Convention

Check out the 2015 winners of the National Scholastic Press Association's Yearbook Pacemaker award! The winners were announced at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in Denver this past weekend and we got to be there! JEA (Journalism Education Association) and NSPA (National Student Press Association) are among the largest scholastic journalism organizations in the country. If your school isn't already a member, we would highly recommend you consider joining as they offer tremendous insight and resources to help you create an amazing yearbook. Congrats to all of this year's yearbook award winners and finalists!


"Since 1927, NSPA's Pacemaker competition has been considered by many to be student journalism's highest honor. All NSPA yearbook and magazine members are eligible to compete in their respective national Pacemaker competitions. Yearbook/Magazine Pacemakers are judged based upon the following criteria: writing/editing, design, content, concept, photography, art and graphics." (source: