Kaitlin Edgerton is the journalism adviser at Grosse Pointe South HS and the newest member of MIPA’s Executive Board.
Edgerton was appointed second vice president in September to fill the remaining term of Sara-Beth Badalamente, who resigned from MIPA’s board to become assistant director of the MIPA Summer Journalism Workshop. Edgerton became a journalism adviser five years ago at Madison HS, where she advised newspaper and yearbook, before moving to Grosse Pointe South two years ago. She now advises The Tower newspaper.
Edgerton talked to STET about her role in the board of directors and what she tells student journalists who are fearful of the state of journalism in the U.S.
Were you a journalist before becoming an adviser?
No, I wasn’t. Actually, I was a English teacher firs,t and when I was doing my student-teaching I went into a yearbook classroom and really liked it and decided I wanted to pursue being a journalism adviser. So I was able to add that on to my certification.
What’s the best part of being an adviser at The Tower?
Being an adviser for The Tower is a unique position because we are the last newspaper to publish weekly in the state of Michigan. So, I think my job and my day-to-day looks a little bit different form other advisers across the state,but at the same time is very much the same in that I just have contact with my students every day.
I think it’s fun because every day is not the same and I really never know what is going to be happening or what problems or things that I need to work with the students kind of arise. And it’s kind of a constant push at Grosse Pointe South towards the deadline.
I’m really lucky because I have such passionate students and I have such a great community that surrounds me that is passionate for journalism as well. And, helping out with MIPA has been exceptional because when I started advising I had so much help through MIPA as well, and I had a lot of advisers across the state reach out to me and help me. Now being a new board member, I’m excited to kind of fill that role and help reach out advisers across the state and make sure that they have the resources they need.
What is your best advice for those advisers who are on their first year and want to do good journalism?
I think what’s rally important is that if you really set the bar high for your students and you kind of set high expectations for them, the students will rise and meet those expectations. And so kind of, a trial by fire, putting the students in it right away and having them work and do things from the beginning is really important because then they are able to see their bylines and see their work being published, and that really excites the student.
As a piece of advice, don’t be afraid to just kind of jump in and start working with students right away and they will surprise you because they are so smart and the are willing to put in the work, especially if you give them that expectation.
Congratulations on your appointment to the board. What will you be doing as part of the board of directors? Do you have a specific role?
As of right now, my goal in the role is just to make sure that I’m helping out with MIPA as much as possible, reaching out to other advisers across the state, helping with curriculum and developing curriculum and making sure the people have the resources that they need and making sure that the program keeps thriving and is able to be one of the best resources for any journalism adviser across the state.
We see how people from every side are attacking journalism and fellow journalists. How do you talk to your students who are seeing journalists being attacked for speaking the truth and publishing facts?
I think its an exciting time for journalism because I feel there’s kind of a renaissance with it, in the sense that journalists are kind of realizing that their profession is under attack and they may have a new sense of purpose in order to kind of earn back the trust of public. I think that that can spark a lot of really great positive conversations in the classroom, especially when it focuses around media literacy and how do people read the news and what kind of trust people have in the news today.
So, while that is happening, I do think that at the same time is something that is incredibly powerful and students can learn from it and they can definitely take something away from it as well.