Online Student Newspaper “Rebelution” Launches

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Thursday December 19, 2013

While South Burlington High School has always had a print newspaper, the rise of digital media over the past few years caused interest in the publication to wane. But, instead of becoming disheartened by this trend, the editor of the paper, Senior Basundhara Mukherjee decided to do something about it. During the summer between her junior and senior years, she attended two journalism programs in Washington DC. One hosted by the Asian American Journalists Association and another, the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, where she was the Vermont state winner and representative, as well as a scholarship recipient. “These two experiences were phenomenal, and really inspired me” Mukherjee said. 

Mukherjee began germinating the concept for the paper over the summer and by the time fall arrived, she was ready to hit the ground running. As she set forth executing her plan, she had solid support from both her advisor, English teacher Veronica White and SBHS. “I’m lucky enough to have such an incredible advisor, who has held the same vision as me for a successful school news source for the past few years” Mukherjee said. 

“At first, we didn’t have a lot of interest. But over time, people began to approach me asking if they could write articles on such and such topic or an opinion piece on politics or compose a photo album of fashion fads. To me, this is what Rebelution is about: fostering our interests, while communicating with our audience” Mukherjee said.

One of the first steps involved choosing a web hosting service. Under the direction of sophomore Walter Proulx, the students collectively agreed that Wordpress would be the ideal content management system for their goals. The format allows for uploading a lot of content in a visually appealing manner while linking to Twitter and Facebook thus enhancing the “live” quality of the news. 

The club meets Friday mornings for half an hour to evaluate pitches and organize the issue. All of the additional work is done on the students’ own time. The writing, editing, copyediting, and eventual approval by Principal Patrick Burke is all undertaken in a four week cycle. Eventually, the students would love to publish bi-weekly, but for now the focus needs to be on quality and high standards, Mukherjee explained.

The first issue went live in November and the next will be online  December 20. So far, the response has been quite favorable and the paper isn’t shying away from weighty subject matter. November’s issue featured an opinion piece on the methadone clinic and another on the Philippines; December’s issue will broach the F35 debate as well as education reform. These topics will be balanced with a solid dose of holiday features including top 5 holiday movies, recipes, and baking videos. The paper will also have a regular science and weather update. “It’s a really diverse group, so it works,” Mukherjee said, “The November issue had a staff of 17 and this issue has a staff of 19, so if someone doesn’t have time to write an article, he/she can always skip that issue.”

Sophomore Haley Bouchard, the current assistant editor, will become the editor in chief next year. Bouchard will be tasked with growing the publication and potentially expanding upon Mukherjee’s goals which include participating in high school newspaper conferences  as well as competitions sponsored by the American Society of News Editors. “I’d like to see it get big in Vermont” Mukherjee said.

Rebelution is a great way to not only get a taste of what’s happening at the high school, but to gain a student perspective on current issues. You can access the paper by going to the South Burlington High School website main page and clicking on the Rebelution link visit it directly at: www.sbrebelution.com.

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent