History of the JerEcho

By TAYLOR KANG and ALISON LIEBERMAN

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The JerEcho has played a fundamental role in the Jericho High School community since its inception in 1961. The paper has seen countless changes, including variations in format, an annual influx of promising new reporters, a shift from print to digital, and most recently, a virtual facelift in the form of a new WordPress layout.

Principal Joan Rosenberg also has some history with the JerEcho. Although she never acted as its faculty advisor, her role in its past may seem more relatable to the average Jericho High School attendee since she was a student reporter.

Ms. Rosenberg worked on the paper for three years under the supervision of Mr. McKeen. At that time the high school consisted of only grades ten through twelve. Rosenberg recalled restrictions on the JerEcho and struggles to publish articles on controversial topics. “There was a lot going on in the sixties and seventies. A lot of civil unrest and things like Vietnam War protesting all over, so [the administration] had to make sure we were putting things in there that were appropriate,” Rosenberg said.

Ms. Rosenberg was also the JerEcho’s first female sports editor, a position that was created during her senior year. At the time, Jericho High School was starting to develop all girl sports in response to Title IX (part of the Educational Amendments of 1972) that decreed gender equality under “any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Ms. Rosenberg recalled that there were only gender-linked editor positions during that period and that she had to fight alongside her female peers for equal print time with the boys.

English teacher Dr. Hartnett served as the JerEcho’s advisor from 1994 to 2002, and started his own journalism class in 1995. The editions he oversaw were typically twenty-eight pages long and published monthly. “What I enjoyed so much about the class was how for forty minutes a day a computer room was transformed into a newsroom. Before teaching, I had been a newspaper editor, so the class felt hauntingly familiar,” he said.

When asked what he considered to be the differences between a print edition and a digital edition, Dr. Hartnett responded, “Perhaps the most difficult challenge for students creating an online newspaper is to create the visual unity and continuity of a physical paper. But that problem is inherent in the changing face of journalism. The New York Times online edition has the same problem compared to its print edition.”

Ms. Hederian served as the paper’s faculty advisor from 2002 to 2010; she was eased into the position by Dr. Hartnett and four years ago relinquished the role to Ms. Valenza.

Hederian recalled, “My proudest moments were when articles made a big splash. When controversial things occurred in the school building regarding teachers’ careers, we covered it as responsibly as we could on the front page of the paper and it took five or six meetings with the principal until it was acceptable to print. But we fought that fight. And I call that article going from whole milk to skim milk, but at least it was in the paper and it was on the front page.”

Hederian described the struggle to produce an edition as an endless succession of questions, all the while poking fun at the naivety of first-time journalists: “What is the news today? What is happening? What should we put in our newspaper? Then you have to get and get information. That is so time-consuming. What type of information?  From whom? Where do we go? What do we do? So just learning how to be a reporter and caring about the news on campus and your world is a huge challenge.” However, despite its trying nature, Ms. Hederian ultimately deemed journalism a rewarding experience. “Once you start doing it and doing it well, you become addicted. Because now you’re processing your world. I just love it. I just really enjoyed it.”

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