The Seraph
  • Moderator: Mr. Hessel
Writing for International Perspectives
International Perspectives is one of the hardest sections of The Seraph to write for. You have to make your article interesting to your readers, something that they can’t get in the general media. That means “localizing” your story, by making it relevant to:
    - students
    - at a Catholic — Franciscan
    - high school
    - in New York City — in Queens, specifically in Fresh Meadows

International Perspectives articles should not simply report the Who, What, Where, When and Why of an incident that happens in another county. Our students have probably already heard about the incident on the radio or TV or in the newspaper. Because of the delay between when something happens and is reported on TV and when The Seraph is published, the event is no longer "news," so we can’t report it as news.

That's why we call the section International "Perspectives." It's important to not report the event as news. Instead, you should tell a "story" that our readers are not likely to have heard anywhere else.

For example, look at the article on terrorism in the October 2005 issue. It ties together the London and Madrid train bombings, and it just so happened that the subway threat in NYC was made at that very same time, so the writer was able to pull all of those things together into one nice story. The first draft was an excellent report of the London bombings in July, but who would have been interested in reading that in October? (No offense to Tim intended.) But when he took time to think about the event further, he made connections, he interpreted, and he told a "story," he didn't just write a report. That's what journalism is all about.

Another way localize an international story is to take advantage of Prep’s large, diverse student population. Try to find students with connections to the area or the event that you are writing about. You can often identify such students through Prep’s many ethnic clubs and their moderators. Find out if anyone here in the school comes from that region, or has ancestors from that area, or visited it, or experienced it. Maybe the club is undertaking a project in response to a disaster – for example, collecting money for a relief effort, or offering special prayer intentions, or collecting toys for orphaned children, or something like that. Maybe you’re writing about a happy event. Look at the story in the October 2005 issue about the Haitian journalist who became Canada’s governor general, in which the writer quoted a Prep student (presumably of Haitian heritage).

Another angle that we can take advantage of is our Franciscan heritage. For example, when the tsunami hit southeast Asia in December 2004, The Seraph’s unique angle was that the Franciscan orphanage in Sri Lanka was spared and was taking in many new refugees, and Prep collected and donated $25,000 that went directly to the Franciscan brothers who ran the orphanage. The article also reported on the visit to the school by two brothers who were in the U.S. studying, and it had several other related pieces about tsunamis, but the centerpiece of the special report was the Franciscan orphanage. This article won Best Feature in The Tablet’s High School Press Awards.

Another important point about International stories is that you need to include your sources - where you got your information. Unless by some unbelievable stroke of luck you were traveling during a break, you probably are not reporting “live from the scene.” In all likelihood, you got your information from somewhere. List the websites or papers or magazines (or whatever) where you got the information, and also where you got any photos. Also, if you use anything that a person said or did, you need to tell us where that came from, unless you spoke with him/her directly. Was he quoted in the New York Times? Did she tell a CNN reporter? Did a quote come from an official press statement or press release? That needs to be made clear in the story.

Regarding photographs: We CANNOT use photos from sites like msn.com, cnn.com, nytimes.com, ap.com, reuters.com, etc. - those are all copyrighted. We can use things from official government websites (which end in .gov, .mil) or sites that are official "media" or "press" sites. Always print a hard copy of the photo and the page where you got it, including the URL of that page, and give that to your editor so we can evaluate the context of its original use. Also, don’t place photos by themselves at the end of your article. Give each photo a caption so your editor will know what the photo shows, along with the source of the photo.

One place you should look for both photos and information is www.krtcampus.com. You can browse, but you won't be able to download anything without the user name and password, which only I have. I'm not allowed to give it to students, but if you find something you think would be useful, let me know what it is (give me the specific identifying information) and I'll get it. (Mrs. Mascone)