Villa Voice Editors Win Award at Yale Daily News High School Journalism Symposium

The Villa Voice, Villa Maria’s school newspaper, won third place for best newspaper at the Yale Daily Newspaper Symposium. Entries were judged on quality of written content, grammar and consistency, design and layout, and photos and graphics. Villa Maria was one of thirteen schools that participated in the event, held at Yale University on the weekend of February 22.

The symposium featured informative writing seminars, prominent speakers, and a high school newspaper competition. Villa Voice participants included Raquel Lacusky, Hannah Rosenberger, Alivia Orvieto, Katie Scaggs, Julie Satterthwaite, Maddie Ladd, Carina Rose, Cecilia Oberkircher,  Mrs. Jessica Mullen (Copy Adviser) and Mrs. Laurie Scaggs ’91(Adviser.)

Speakers at the conference included Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist known for breaking the Watergate scandal; Rebecca Lieberman, Designer and Interactive Story Developer for New York Times; Adriane Quinlan, Show Writer and Supervising Writer for VICE News Tonight; Erica Pandey, reporter for Axios; Yuliya Parshina-Kottas, Graphics and Multimedia Editor for New York Times; and, Paul Steiger, ProPublica editor and previous Managing Editor at Wall Street Journal.

Below, Villa Voice Editor Alivia Orvieto ’20 reflects on her experience at the symposium.

Editors Raquel Lacusky, Hannah Rosenberger, and Alivia Orvieto

By Alivia Orvieto ‘20
The Villa Voice Editor-in-Chief 

Being a young journalist, and avid “Gilmore Girls” TV show viewer, I have to say, I had some preconceived notions of the Yale Daily News. It was founded January 28, 1878 and is the nation’s oldest college daily newspaper and has been consistently ranked among the top college daily newspapers in the country. That and the level of intensity explained on the TV show was an intimidating first impression. Nevertheless, I was excited and ready to take on the challenge of the symposium! 

On Friday, February 21st, I, along with seven other members of The Villa Voice and moderators Mrs. Scaggs and Mrs. Mullen, embarked on a journey to New Haven, Connecticut.

Leaving class at 1:30 p.m., we hopped on the Villa van which took us to the Malvern train station. From there we took Septa to 30th street station, and then Amtrak to New Haven, CT.

Arriving at our hotel around 7:30 p.m., we ate dinner at the Courtyard Marriot restaurant and then got settled into our rooms. But we didn’t go to bed; the eight of us stayed up and read the “required articles” sent out by the YDN, in preparation for the next day filled with speakers and discussions based on those articles.

After a wonderful night’s sleep, the team was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to take on all that was to be learned about journalism.

When we arrived at 9:00 a.m., The YDN team had breakfast awaiting us in their “Reporter’s Room” in their news building. At first glance of the Reporter’s Room, I felt as though I was looking at Disney World for the very first time—in awe. In this room, the walls were COVERED by the front pages of newspapers. Every year the YDN chooses one of their favorite front pages from the whole year and puts it up on the wall.

Day one of the Symposium included 3 discussions and 4 speakers. The discussion groups included about 5-10 students per room with 1-2 YDN reporters as the discussion facilitators. The first discussion was about defining Journalism, considering and debating when the “golden age” of journalism was/is, and also discussing who is given the title of “journalist,” can everyone be a journalist?, what makes a journalist different from a blogger?.

After this discussion, we were all gathered into an auditorium as we listened to Graphics and Multimedia Editor of The New York Times Rebecca Liebermann discuss her job of making interactive digital stories. One of her projects that she shared with us was “65 Block Parties, 5 Boroughs, 20 Photographers: See What They Found.” She took us through the process of developing a story, using one’s resources, and putting together a team to get the job done. She also showed us how she formats and displays the live results for the political elections.

Next, we broke for lunch. The Villa voice crew went to “Madison Mathis Yale,” where I had some delicious eggs with toast and avocado, and also a macaroon—because why not?

When we returned to the auditorium, there was a screen with a large picture of a man’s face on it. Slightly confused, I sat down. I soon realized that it wasn’t any random man, but it was arguably one of the most renowned journalists of all time—Bob Woodward. (This is when the nerd/fangirl in me was screaming with excitement on the inside)

Over the video call, Mr. Woodward took us through his journey reporting on the Watergate Scandal and the perseverance, respect, and ethics it takes to be a good journalist. He emphasized fact checking, being objective in reporting, getting all sides of the story (even if that means many, many interviews), and to make a personal relationship with whomever you may be interviewing.

One of our own Editors-in-Chief Raquel Lacusky was bold and got up to ask him a question. She asked, “When you are breaking an investigative story, how much of the process is comprised of fact-checking and touching base with legal officers to get hard facts and documents?”

Our next discussion correlated directly with Bob Woodward’s insights. We discussed the ethics of journalism, how to avoid biases, how to demonstrate respect and regard as a reporter, and the importance of accuracy in the press.

Following the discussion, we gathered back in the auditorium to hear from Show Writer and Supervising Writer for VICE News Tonight Adriane Quinlan. She expressed the influence that words have on an audience by showing us good and bad examples. She emphasized that words should express the nature of the matter, they should not elicit panic or alter the reality of the thing. She also walked us through one of her projects that she had done with the story on the burning of Notre Dame. She created a mini-documentary that was a follow up to a documentary she had made about Notre Dame prior to the fire.

In the final discussion of the day, we discussed how technology is altering the format and nature of journalism. We considered the positive and negative effects new technologies have had in advancing components of journalism.

To end the day, we had the opportunity to hear from the Editor-in-Chief of the YDN Sammy Westfall. She walked us through a day in the life of a YDN reporter. To recap: the students there work from about 5:30 PM till about 3:00 AM in order to publish daily and send the paper to their 130+ delivery locations. She also talked to us about their recruitment process, funding, and some major articles/papers they’ve published so far this year.

The Villa Voice crew then went to dinner at an awesome pizzeria and then topped off the night with some ice cream.

The final day, Sunday, we began with a tour of the University. The history and architecture of the campus truly amazed me—if you appreciate art, ever have time, and are in Connecticut, stop by Yale and thank me later!

After the tour we had breakfast and then piled into the auditorium. Our final speaker was Graphics and Multimedia Editor for The New York Times Yuliya Parishina-Kottas. She took us through her 3-D animation of Typhoon Mangkhut and discussed with us augmented reality and the process of making it work on the web.

Because we had to leave the Symposium early, we had missed the awards ceremony. However, as we were getting into our Uber one of the Editors of the YDN came running out after us with a plaque that said 3rd place! The Villa Voice concluded an amazing learning experience with a 3rd place win for best print newspaper out of the 12 schools that were invited.

We, the Villa Voice, are always growing and improving our newspaper. Keep an eye out for our next edition to be printed in the middle of March!