Fun and inspiring websites for a high school journalism class

Do you remember your high school journalism class?

I do. It was the kind of class where you learn by doing. We put hours into producing a monthly newspaper called ‘The Eye.’ Our instructor treated us like real journalists. I learned lessons that I would take into my real career; my co-editor and I uncovered a sexual harassment scandal that forced a faculty member to resign.

SAS recently invited me back to Singapore to do a workshop with my old high school journalism class. I spent two weeks with the Eye Online staff, discussing website design, basic HTML + CSS, journalism ethics, multimedia production, and data reporting.  At the end of the two weeks, the students built an online home for our newspaper.

Needless to say, I had an amazing time (and quite a walk down memory lane) coaching a publication I used to work for.

I was also caught completely off guard by how much work goes into putting together a class. Since it took me a while to assemble the pieces of the lectures, I figured I could share a resource list here, in case anyone ever needs a list of fun websites to inspire high school students.

This is by no means a comprehensive list — just a good mix for a 1.5 hour class. Have any examples of storytelling that you love? Please share below!



Boston Globe: Ted Kennedy
Put together by the Globe and my friends at Upstatement, this Emmy-nominated project is the first place I have ever seen “online sidebars” put to use effectively. Just check out all the multimedia elements with this feature.

Tampa Bay: The Girl in the Window

LA Times: California’s War Dead

Boston Globe: The Big Picture
Stories don’t have to be told in an article format. In fact, the best ones usually aren’t.



Media Storm: Ivory Wars

The Daily Show: The Parent Company Trap
Reporting doesn’t have to be boring. Comedian Jon Stewart might be telling jokes, but he does more journalism than most journalists.

NPR’s Planet Money: Toxie’s Dead
The reporters at Planet Money spent $1000, bought a toxic asset and told a story about its life. They made economics FUN and cute (see video).

TED: Hans Rosling shows the best stats you’ve ever seen
TED Talks are an exercise in editing down difficult concepts into bite-sized stories. This guy might just be wielding charts, but you can’t stop watching.


NYTimes: Olympic Symphony
I could tell you that Lindsey Vonn beat Julia Mancuso by 0.56 seconds in the Women’s Downhill, but that doesn’t mean anything until you can hear it.

NYTimes: Tracking US Airways Flight 1549 Making sense of complex issues through Data and Design



Guardian: Crowdsourcing MP Expenses
How can you sift through 500,000 really, really boring documents? You get your readers to help you do the hard work. Introduced to me by Brian Boyer of the Trib’s News Apps team.

ESPN: Is it Monday Yet?
Everyone loves games — and while this may not be Journalism, it’s a great way to capture your audience’s attention. There’s no rule saying that media outlets can’t have fun.

NYTimes: Gauging Your Distraction
Think you can text and drive? Think again.


RedEye: Homicide Tracker
RedEye reporter Tracy Swartz does incredible work tracking homicide data across Chicago. Pair her up with the Trib’s News Apps team and an LA Times framework, and our readers get up-to-date local information about homicides in their neighborhood.

NYTimes: Inaugral Words
All the inauguration speeches since 1789? Yawn. Or not.

BBC: How Big Really?
What if the Gulf Oil Spill were superimposed over Chicago? How about Boston? How big is it really? A visualization to help you understand international events far from home.

Tampa Bay: Mugshots
Out of all my examples, the high school kids loved this website the most.

Sunlight Labs: Know They Congressman


Jonathan Harris: We Feel Fine
Even though I found this website back in 2006, it is still one of my favorite websites in the whole world. Built by Jonathan Harris.

And, some free online tools for student journalists:

W3Schools | ManyEyes | Wordle | Tumblr | YouTube/Vimeo | Swivel | Google Maps, Analytics, Docs, Calendar, Charts,  Fusion |  PollDaddy  |  Issuu  |  Flickr  |  DivShare  |  SoundCloud  |  CoverItLive