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Lehigh Carbon Community College

LCCC students get newspaper experience with The Paw Print

By Leanne Recla

Since The Paw Print at Lehigh Carbon Community College started three years ago, the student newspaper has been flourishing.

“We’re really seeing the fruits of our labor,” says Ed Rabinowitz, Paw Print advisor and assistant professor of communications.

The Paw Print publishes four issues per year — two during the fall semester and two in the spring. Students who enroll in the sophomore-level journalism course CMN/ENG 225 are required to write two stories for the newspaper during the semester.

“It made me a stronger writer, just because I learned another style than what I was used to,” says Lexis Harner, one of The Paw Print’s editors during the spring 2017 semester. “It has helped me grow as a writer, especially in getting my point across. In journalism, you learn that not everything has to be a five-page paper to get across what you’re saying. You can just make it short and sweet.”

Each year, two to four of the students who write for The Paw Print during the combined Communications/English course (CMN/ENG 225) then enroll in a Newspaper Production course, and they become The Paw Print’s editors. The students produce the newspaper in a Student Publications Office, learning Adobe InDesign for design and layout. LCCC’s literary magazine, Xanadu, also uses the Student Publications Office.

“It’s a lot of fun making things fit together. Seeing it go from drafts to a finished product is really satisfying,” says Alicia Durst, who was one of The Paw Print’s editors in the fall 2016 semester.

Rabinowitz teaches the editors how to use InDesign — an industry standard in the communications field for layout and design — in between semesters. That way, the students have completed training sessions and are familiar with the software when the semester starts.

The students are also responsible for all aspects of producing a newspaper, from editing and layout to advertising and circulation.

“It’s a lot of work — advertising, distribution, the blogs every single week. It’s a lot of other stuff besides, ‘Oh, we’ll just crank out a newspaper,’ ” Rabinowitz says.

“It gives you a different perspective on deadlines, too,” Durst says. “As a student, you think, ‘OK, I have this assignment due.’ But when you’re on the other side, actually needing that work done, it gives a different perspective on how your actions affect other people. It made me respect deadlines a lot more.”

For many of the students, the experience has helped them focus on their career goals.

“This actually helped me figure out what I wanted to do. I was taking journalism and thinking, ‘I could be an editor.’ And I switched my major to communications,” Durst says.

Amanda Treible, who was also a Paw Print editor, now works part time as a reporter and editorial assistant at The Times News in Lehighton.

“The Paw Print was a great starting point for my career and showed me how to write and speak like a journalist,” Treible says. “I was able to use articles to start a portfolio, then give that to an editor to show that I knew how to write for school board meetings, features and news. I really believe this is the reason I was able to get my job as a reporter.”