My name is Piper Hansen, I’m a student journalist at duPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky where I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Manual RedEye, an exclusively online, multimedia news source for our school and its surrounding community. Through school, I’m also a student producer for Z-Radio and a member of a special investigative reporting team that we have yet to officially name. Outside of school, I’m a Content Contributor for a neighborhood and lifestyle magazine called Parkside Living, a Junior Counselor at YMCA Camp Piomingo and a Desk Clerk at the X-Ray Lady.
I’ve worked on several other projects throughout high school including brief reporting with The Trace to remember young victims of gun violence following the massacre in Parkland, Florida as well as cinematography, production design and editing for a student-directed feature length film. In addition to these two projects, I’ve also had the opportunity to speak to other student journalists and their advisers about multimedia tools, how to use them and the rise of digital media at the Fall 2018 National High School Journalism Convention hosted by the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association. For my full resume, you can click here.
Spending the past four years of my life as a student journalist has been incredibly transformative to my identity and to the person I am becoming. Through my reporting, I’ve met retired professional skydivers, sexual assault survivors, congressmen and women, student activists, business owners, university presidents and other successful community members whose stories have all shaped my own.
From the retired professional skydiver, I’ve learned to aim high and be fearless. From the sexual assault survivor, I’ve learned to be outspoken when things don’t seem right. From the congressmen and women, I’ve learned to actively participate in the decisions that people are making about me. From the student activists, I’ve learned that age is a non-factor when it comes to action and leadership. Working to tell their stories has been an absolute pleasure. They’ve worked themselves into my own story and they continue to compel me to be a better, more well-rounded person.
But journalism isn’t just about the person putting the story together. As the only profession protected by the United States Constitution, journalism is one of the most imperative pillars of democracy. To continue reading my Journalist of the Year Application Personal Statement, you can click here.
My peers, mentors and teachers have described me as self-motivated, hard-working and driven. These characteristics are backed by four years of experience and training in hard news, editorial and feature writing as well as multimedia and desktop publishing and a passion for candid storytelling. Compiled in this website are some of the topics I cover most and my favorite, most impactful coverage. You can easily navigate through the categories by using the three grey bars in the top left corner or by scrolling through to the bottom.
As a student journalist, access to resources, contacts and other important information regarding local and national news that affects students at my school is hard to come by. However, one of my goals as a student journalist is to make sure my peers have access to materials they need to make decisions and form their own opinions. With each of the following stories, I have made sure that all facts were verified either through interviews with experts, through comparisons with professional media or from my own research into the topic.
This was one of the more difficult stories I have worked on. It required me to speak with both opponents and proponents of Senate Bill 71 that included conservative lawmakers and sexual assault survivors. It was difficult to wade through the lawmaker’s comments because of the sheer amount of times a false statistic was thrown around in the interview about abortion and/or contraceptives.
EXCERPT: According to the Courier-Journal, “much of the discussion during the hearing focused on cultural concerns ranging from faith and religion to sexual abuse.”
“We have to work to lobby for bills that teach science and [we have to] get politicians who support safe sex and women’s choice rights,” Trevor Harry (11, HSU) said. “We have to keep Planned Parenthood open because they provide some free contraception and teach sex education when public school curriculum fails.”
The Courier also reported that supporter of the bill, Republican Sen. Danny Carroll, “said he believes it’s important to require that abstinence and monogamy be included in sex education, arguing that societies that don’t set standards are doomed to fail.”
While some students see the need for abstinence education, they believe the reality is heavily flawed.
The following are two more examples of a variety of sources, basic formatting and organization, research and objectivity.
The recommendation specified that current JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio continue to “manage the day-to-day operations of the district” but should “have weekly progress meetings with Kentucky Education Associate Commissioner Dr. Kelly Foster,” according to an official JCPS statement sent to teachers, parents and students yesterday afternoon.
Commissioner Lewis made the recommendation based on the results of a district-wide audit that began in 2016 under former Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens. The Kentucky Department of Education conducted the two year audit in order to “determine if ‘there is a pattern of a significant lack of efficiency and effectiveness in the governance or administration of a school district.’”
EXCERPT: The proposed salary for a single mental health professional is $50,500 per year. With 150 schools in JCPS, the district is looking at spending roughly $7,500,000 on the new counselors.
“We have to acknowledge the growing trend of youth suicide in Kentucky,” JCPS District Three Board Representative James Craig said. “The money will be worth it even if we save just one life.”
The National Center for Education Statistics reported during the 2015-2016 school year that 71 percent of public schools anonymously assessed their students for mental health disorders. Only 64 percent of those schools had available treatment.
Students at Manual are more than aware of the issues surrounding mental health in schools. In November of 2017 when Manual administrators first announced Crimson Hour, 173 of 176 surveyed Manual students believed that some of their stress was school-related.
I am a firm believer in the old sayings of “take a picture, it will last longer” and “pictures speak louder than words.” Images and other multimedia that work to enhance your story often set them apart from other coverage on the same topic or event.
One thing about photojournalism that has been incredibly rewarding for me is seeing students at my school post my photos on social media. It’s all about the audience and if they can’t see themselves in it, whether it’s physically seeing their face in a photo or reading a perspective they share, they won’t understand the importance of the article.
The following are stories with photo galleries and attached in this website are some of my favorites that have worked to enhance my copy and other multimedia in a given post.
Working for a digital news publication has brought to my attention the importance of exploring all modes of communication. As digital media and 24-hour news begins to dominate our society and the daily newsflow, interactive graphics, videos, photography and other embedded content speak just as loud and sometimes even louder than words alone. Using the internet, a unique platform that young people are typically well-versed in, has also allowed me to experiment with different ways to tell stories and accommodate for my audience and for the coverage.
The following and their attached multimedia pieces use all types of journalism to create one product. They use interactive platforms to convey a unified message, theme or idea that people at duPont Manual and in Louisville were concerned with at the time of publication.
Every October, duPont Manual High School faces off against long-time rival Louisville Male High School. Everyone at school gets immersed in the festivities of the week and every single staff member is required to participate in our extensive coverage of the week leading up to the football game.
As Editor-in-Chief I make sure that everything is already set to go smoothly before the week begins and I work with other top editors to ensure we have the man-power to take on rescheduled events, exporting crashes, dead camera batteries and any other breaking news that might happen during the week.
After myself and the rest of my staff completes a large package of themed coverage, we put together a special website where it can all be found. Use the link above to be redirected to the website I put together for this year’s Black History Month package.
Continuing to use the features of the internet, I have also been able to produce videos, audio stories and other multimedia broadcasts.
By completely understanding and being immersed in a digital publication, I’ve been able to experiment with the Adobe Creative Cloud and other programs in order to produce infographics for the web.
While some often default to strictly writing as a journalistic medium, it is just one of the many ways to communicate ideas and facts. Attached are just a few of my favorite writing projects varying from hard news to features to editorials.
EXCERPT: Amid the longest government shutdown, the president focused his and the public’s attention this week to border security. President Donald Trump addressed the nation on Tuesday, Jan. 8 to argue for the construction of a steel border wall and to discuss border security surrounding what he calls a “crisis at our Southern border.”
A day later on Jan. 9, the president met with congressional leaders to discuss possibilities of reopening the government. Then, on Jan. 10, Trump visited McAllen, Texas on the U.S.-Mexico border where he sought to again make a case for the creation of a border wall and to be briefed on its construction thus far.
“The issue of border security wouldn’t exist if we took the problem from its source and tried to aid foreign governments,” Caroline Bowling (12, MST) said.
With the week finally coming to a close, no bipartisan legislation to appropriate funding for the wall and no decision to reopen the federal government, students expressing similar feelings that they were at the beginning of the week.
“His ideology surrounding those immigrating to our country is hypocritical and blatantly racist,” Frances Millar (12, VA) said. “His ideas of protecting our border with a metal wall are childish. This entire situation is so upsetting.”
EXCERPT: Mr. Darryl Farmer, Manual’s principal, prompted teachers to close their doors during the entirety of the school day and announced that students were to only enter the building through approved and regulated entrances last week during morning announcements.
Farmer later explained that the changes were mandated by the district and/or the Kentucky Center for School Safety (KCSS), however, RedEye reporters found no written requirements or other documents that recently sanctioned such safety reinforcements.
Many schools in Jefferson County and throughout the state are attempting to address school safety amid headlines of school shootings and various threats of violence.
WDRB reported in June that the KCSS executive director “says some schools have looked at installing metal detectors, having staff check students’ backpacks or arming school personnel, among other possibilities.”
EXCERPT: From the life of a slave down the ancestral line, a loved and locally famed substitute teacher, Mr. William “Bill” Stone has traced his family history back to Benjamin Franklin Spencer, the first former slave in Kentucky to become a registered teacher. Benjamin Franklin Spencer is Mr. Stone’s great great grandfather and Bill is proud to know his heritage and Ben’s story.
Mr. Stone was not always as invested in his family history as he is now. As a high school student, he rarely thought about where he had come from.
“Once I found out about my heritage, my GPA went from like a 2.7 to a 4.0 by the time I got my master’s degree,” Stone said.
Attending Kentucky State University, Stone drew his curiosity of his family while in an African-American history class. Once intrigued, he was able to get in contact with his great uncle Johnny who lived in Detroit, Michigan at the time. Luckily for Mr. Stone, his beloved uncle had documented the family’s history on a tape recorder and had stored old photographs.
EXCERPT: On one of the first days of class, Darryl Farmer pulled his classroom door shut eager to start another year. Letters cut out of construction paper hung above a map of the world identifying it and the classroom as “FARMER WORLD.” Mr. Farmer stood at the front of the room as his students shifted in their seats, reaching into their backpacks to grab materials for the hour ahead. One student, situated toward the back of the room reached into his pocket instead and pulled out a knot of bills.
“Hey, Mr. Farmer,” he shouted toward the front of the room, “why do I need to know geography when I’ve got this?” All eyes were on Farmer as they anticipated some sort of fiery response.
“Well it’s not so much the geography that you’ll need, it’s just the experience of education,” Farmer replied. “You’re going to go through that cash. You’ll have fun with it but it will end. But this education, when you learn it, is never going to end.”
Farmer shifted his weight from his left to his right foot, feeling the pressure of being put on the spot. He took a few strides to the corner of the room where a closet door stood half-way open.
“It’s sort of like this closet,” Farmer said. “I can go in there and get what I need when I need it and come back out. I can close it when I’m done but I can always go back to it.” The students held their breath waiting for a response from their peer in the back of the room.
“Okay,” the student said after three long seconds. “I’ll buy that.”
EXCERPT: When the leader of the free world is consistently eroding the power of the media, journalists need to take a stand. When people in power create an atmosphere of distrust with the press and disbelief of the fact, journalists need to take a stand. When the president is taking steps towards an unchecked and totalitarian rule, journalists need to take a stand.
The Fake News Awards aren’t something journalists should be taking lightly. Trump’s continued criticism of the press as “fake news” is all part of an effort to discredit the media. And it’s working — in a way that should be deeply alarming for journalists everywhere. Trump has the public’s ear, and when he tells them a source is untrustworthy, they listen. To his supporters, if the president says the New York Times is a biased and untruthful news site, they stop listening to what the New York Times has to say. And that’s just one example.
The implications of this are extensive: If he’s convinced the public that those who criticize him are “fake news”, how will they know when their rights are being violated by the very person in charge of protecting them?
The free press exists to keep authority in check, but America’s ultimate authority doesn’t want to hear it. He’s closed his ears and convinced his supporters to do the same.
Whistleblowers and watchdogs do have power. They hold the key to the truth, but the truth can only prevail if people are willing to listen.
EXCERPT: Among headlines of midterm results, growing numbers of casualties from California firesand the approaching migrant caravan are reports of a direct attack on the press. On Nov. 7, the day after the midterm elections, President Donald Trump suspended CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass following a set of questions regarding Trump’s advertisement about the migrant caravan and his thoughts on the Russia investigation during a press conference.
While Acosta was only doing his job, the president took his questions as rude insults and unwanted critiques of his administration. This instance isn’t one of the first. The utter disrespect of the press by the president can no longer stand — it is rupturing our democracy, hurting the constitutional right to a free press and diminishing the importance of information. To respond, the White House press corps should dissent from the responsibilities of their normal jobs; they should stand in solidarity with Acosta and other journalists who have been mocked by the president.
Protesting and boycotting the very job of covering the president is a solution that provides commentary on the state of the union in terms of the media, political ideologies of the current administration and will provide commentary on the simple fact that Donald Trump and his supporters place the role of the president above the law.
All things considered, standing in solidarity with Acosta and other journalists throughout the nation who have received rude comments, general disrespect, hate mail and even death threats because of their reporting will bring awareness to the issues that the press, in particular the White House press corps, face every day.
As one of my high school publication’s top leaders, a lot of the editing and administrative duties are not conveyed through the website because they aren’t tangible. My daily duties as Editor-in-Chief include holding daily meetings in both a group setting and an individual one. Working with my peers to strive to make our writing and content the best happens in these small meetings where we discuss the purpose of our reporting and how we can cater to our audience. One thing I try to stress to all of my editors is that it is best to edit stories and lead staffers through setting positive examples and helping along the way in the production of news.
With the story below, I helped a sophomore writer develop a voice for the figures in her feature article and assisted in writing the big picture view of how the program helps the Louisville community in the long-run.
This website is only a small fraction of my portfolio of work and what I’ve achieved so far. And my portfolio will continue to grow; I am currently working on covering the lives of community members who have lost loved ones due to gun violence for a one year anniversary of the March for Our Lives media package. In addition, I am working to verify and put the finishing touches on a long-term investigative project about the Jefferson County Public Schools’ Digital Backpack of Success Skills.
I am so lucky to have found something that I am already so passionate about. Journalism gives me the opportunity to give back to my community and without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I plan to study journalism in college and move to professional reporting with an organization that specializes in digital and multimedia content.