For the first time in school history, The Gauntlet, the Upper School newspaper of Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School, is accessible to a worldwide audience. The paper has been transformed from a print publication to an online news site. The Gauntlet is now live.
The online Gauntlet houses up-to-date news stories and photos. Student staff members are able to integrate videos, slideshows, audio clips and up-to-the-minute polls. The content of the newspaper is archived and organized in a way that makes it much more attainable.
Nadia Watts, the journalism teacher at Saint Stephen’s, said the class would be forever changed with the online transformation. “We’re opening ourselves up to the entire world here; for the first time, anyone anywhere will be able to read our stories.”
In fact, the journalism course was selected to be the first all-iPad course at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School. Thanks to a generous donation by an anonymous donor, all eight journalists have access to an iPad so that they can practice mobile journalism as it is done out in the field.
Academic Dean Ms. Beth Teske, who worked closely with Watts to bring about this transformation, said she saw a number of benefits to the new format.
“It’s really the direction that journalism is moving. The students will learn so much about deadlines, daily work and keeping up with the community. It will also provide a much more open window so that people outside
our school can take a look at our school,” she said.
Senior Amber Falkner, co-editor-in-chief, said that The Gauntlet’s transition was exciting for everyone.
“With our online format, we have the ability to constantly update our articles and also to write pieces that are truly of-the-moment. By taking The Gauntlet online, we will be opening a lot of doors for ourselves as journalists and also for the community as our audience. Our readers will be able to turn to us for today’s news, not last month’s,” she said.
Junior Monique Chicvak, managing/news editor, said going online would give journalism students an opportunity to continue to improve upon their journalistic skills.
“It allows us journalists to further perfect our writing, interviewing and editing skills because we now have the opportunity to publish articles more often,” she said.
Junior Devon Tallman, photography editor, said this process was a great way to move into the 21st century.
“Not only is the journalism class moving on with the 21st century, but the entire school is as well,” she said.
Head of School Mrs. Jan Pullen said she liked that moving The Gauntlet online incorporated a modern, 21st century way of reporting.
“At Saint Stephen’s we’re always trying to be on the cutting edge, because we have the freedom to be as an independent school. I love that when Mrs. Watts approached me about moving The Gauntlet online we had the freedom to say ‘why not?’” she said.
Senior Aiste Zalepuga, co-editor-in-chief, said that as much as the class will change, some things will stay the same.
“A lot of the duties we have will stay the same. The quality of the writing and of the production will stay the same, but at the same time we’re always trying to improve on that. I definitely think our values of the newspaper will still remain,” she said.
“The class will carry on with the same professionalism it had before, but now, we are challenged to maintain this professionalism at a more rapid pace; we are [now] expected to publish one to two articles daily,” she said. “That said, I have no doubt that this class [will] be able to do it. We have a very strong, tightly-knit staff of eight people who are all on board and ready for the transformation.”
The Gauntlet staff agreed that each of the sections would be affected by the transition to an online format.
“It definitely revolutionizes [the News section] in that we have the option to cover not only news that happens within the Saint Stephen’s community but national and international news as well,” Chicvak said.
Tallman said that after the transition, everyone would become photographers.
“Everyone will have the opportunity to test out their photography skills,” she said.
Freshman Luc Goeders, opinions editor, said the transition would provide a greater opportunity for The Gauntlet to voice the opinions of the school community.
“We’ll be able to better represent the opinions of our students, and the students will be able to utilize the Opinions section more often. Students will also have the opportunity to voice their opinions by contributing articles to the Opinions section,” he said.
Sophomore Austin Siegel, sports editor, said he was excited about the way the sports section would be changed.
“It allows us to expand into a bigger area of sports writing. We can cover individual games and give people more in-depth coverage of what’s going on in sports at Saint Stephen’s,” he said.
Junior Stefan Wolfe, features editor, said he was excited about the availability the articles will have.
“All the stories will be accessible every day, and we will be able to archive them,” he said.
Zalepuga said one of the biggest benefits of the switch was that it gave The Gauntlet the ability to tell more stories.
“It will be really exciting to be able to represent the voices of more students in the paper. We have no word limit or page limit, so we’ll be able to incorporate so many more stories and document so many more experiences and challenges that the students face,” she said. “It will unite our Upper School even more, and will also allow us to reach out to other divisions.”
Siegel said he believed the transition will enhance the school’s sense of community.
“Having the Web site broadens the school community. Parents, students and alumni can keep up with the school. One of the best aspects of Saint Stephen’s is that it’s such a community, and I think this Web site will heighten our community spirit,” he said.
Watts pointed out that with this great privilege comes great responsibility.
“My students will feel even more accountability, because they know the world will be seeing them and their work, and that’s a good thing,” she said.
Goeders said the new format will allow the school to become more knowledgeable about the events happening at Saint Stephen’s.
“We’ll be able to constantly update the school on whatever is happening. The school will be very well-informed,” he said.
Pullen said she expects the transition to increase readership.
“I really feel like the readership will be more consistent because it will always be with [the students]. I think the accessibility of it will cause more readership because it can be on their phones, iPods, iPads and computers,” she said.
Falkner said she hoped the transition would impact not only the school, but the local community as well.
“My hope is that the community will feel that it can turn to us for its local and maybe even national news. We will no longer be reporting last month’s news, and I believe that the community’s perception of The Gauntlet will change very quickly once they read the article about today,” she said.
Zalepuga said she was excited about the experience she gained throughout the process of starting up the Web site.
“A lot of the skills that we gain can be applied not just in the journalistic field but in any endeavor that we take on. Knowing how to start up something that we’ve never done before is so exciting,” she said.
Pullen said she was most excited about the challenge The Gauntlet’s transformation posed to the journalism class.
“I like the innovation, and I like the idea of the challenge. I think there is some excitement to doing something that you can’t always predict,” she said. “What’s wonderful about it is that you’re not only launching The Gauntlet; you’re launching the thinking of doing things in the 21st century,” she said.