Lucy Marco: NSPA Multimedia Journalist of the Year portfolio


    Lucy poses with a white board for the featured image in her blog piece called “Thinking inside the box” for her blog, Lucy’s Laboratory.

    I’ll admit that being a co-online editor in chief for two years and a writer and reporter for The Shield was the most challenging endeavor I have ever taken on. I interviewed for the co-online editor position not having a single clue what that title and job meant, thinking “maybe it’s like being an editor in chief but a lot easier.” I was wrong. The online newspaper is essential to getting the news out as soon as possible and giving every high school journalist an equal chance to shine and innovate. My job was to manage all of it, making sure we get good quality material out daily and giving each section equal attention–with the help of my co-online editor, Alice Scott, and my newspaper adviser, Dave Winter. 

    Although it was a lot of work and sometimes very stressful, I knew I had one of the most important jobs on our award-winning publication’s staff: making sure that stories that might not make the deadline for the print issue still get published and embellishing print stories with interesting features, making reading them online an immersive experience.

    The beauty of having a website for your publication is the variety of ways you can tell a story through the multimedia aspects of the online world. Extended stories, more pictures, graphics, audio recordings, pull quotes, videos and interesting templates– the journalism experience changes completely when you can take up as much room as you want and not have to worry about how it’s all going to fit on a little, rectangular, printed page. But it also changes the way the story might be perceived by the reader. When a story uses multimedia, including a variety of story-telling elements, the reader can organically interact with it, becoming an active participant in the content.  

    I had one of the most important jobs in our award-winning publication’s staff: making sure that stories that might not make the deadline for the print issue still get published and embellishing print stories with interesting features, making reading them online an immersive experience.”

    But most of all, as an online editor, I learned to be a leader, which brought me skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life and in my future career. 

    My blog, Lucy’s Laboratory, represented some of my best work from my time on the Shield staff. It’s what people know me for, and it’s the legacy I’m leaving behind. Although I only have a few chapters out there, I’m proud of the hours and hours of hard work and the thinking I put into them. One piece in particular, Thinking inside the box, taught me the value of writing with honesty. I always want things to be perfect. The anxiety that comes with wanting things to be groundbreakingly perfect, to a completely unrealistic level, leads me to be a pretty seasoned procrastinator. This is a problem I’m sure I will confront for the rest of my life, but in this particular case writing with honesty in this blog piece let me connect with the readers a little more and to the project itself. I had put off writing about the project for months after I had completed the experiment because of the burnout and apathy that came with online school during COVID, something that actually resonated with the responses I received to my questions in my project.  

    I used a slideshow gallery feature to portray the box project notes authentically. I found that the handwriting gave the responses personality and humanized the quotes even more than just the uniform font on the website. 

    Thank God it’s Friday, is one of my favorite journalism experiences. With the help of Alice Scott, we created a video and story about a freshman, Ben, and his service dog, Friday. We invited the viewer to see Ben as much more than his disability, as a clever and funny high-schooler who is excited to work with his sweet service dog in an educational setting. This project taught me about collaboration, as I learned to divide the work with Alice and try new things, like interviewing on camera and writing a script for a journalistic video. 

    I was editing and arranging the feature story, Looking Sharp by Morgan Eye, onto the page when I envisioned turning the list of inspirational albums given by the main subject into some sort of gallery. My newspaper adviser, Mr. Winter, suggested that I use flip cards to display them. Within about 15 minutes, I put some flip cards at the bottom of the story that allow the reader to interact with them and even lead them to the full album on Spotify. These flip cards elevated the story in a way the print issue physically cannot, and this experience taught me the importance of having a vision as a leader and the importance of technology.

    I was the only member on staff who knew how to do a grid template and the only one who wasn’t busy studying for finals.”

    As a staff, we attempt to publish a relevant photo essay every Tuesday, covering some sort of recent student event, like a dance show, a basketball game, a protest, and so on. When we succeeded in getting the essays out on time, it was a beautiful thing to watch. Staff members would volunteer to pick up a caption and then the photo gallery would come together on WordPress at a very late hour, usually by Mr. Winter or myself. A particular “Tuesday Top 10” that stands out to me is the photo essay Coffee and Cupid documenting “Coffeehouse,” a student-organized poetry and concert series. A first-year staffer had volunteered to put it together that evening and messaged me during the final hour, 11 p.m., that she couldn’t figure it out. So I leaped out of the shower and got to work, retrieving photos and editing captions. The final product is something I’m proud of, a gallery of beautiful photos and captions that perfectly document the event. This photo essay taught me dedication and problem-solving: sometimes you have to take the reins and power through.

    The final piece in my portfolio is a grid template display of all the students that made the cut for the “Who’s Who” honorable mention. I put my blood, sweat and tears into this one, as I was handed the project the final week of my senior year with only about a day to complete it. Originally, the deadline seemed realistic if everyone came together as a team and worked on it. But unfortunately, I was the only member on staff who knew how to do a grid template and the only one who wasn’t busy studying for finals. So I spent hours finding the photos, entering the achievements, editing and scrounging for blurbs on all 25 of the people. The grid template allowed for a very interactive and aesthetically pleasing experience, adding a little more pizzazz than just a simple list to scroll through. This project taught me it takes tenacity and willpower to be a leader. In the end, I pieced it all together and it was an intense and strong way to finish out my time on staff.