OCEAN CITY — When Ocean City High School first printed its student newspaper, The Billows, the term "new media" referred to gramophones and vacuum tubes.
Earlier this school year, the paper merged with the school's cinema production club, Current OC, to collaborate on their first online news edition, a polished mix of articles and videos published last month.
The project demanded the students learn the latest technologies and techniques, but they were also taught some pretty old-school lessons.
"Preparing and responsibility were major ones," said Dominique Meola, a senior from Ocean City.
"Spell checking, editing," said Andrew DeCredico, a senior of Upper Township.
"Stepping up when something needed to get done," said Shannon Farrell, a junior of Ocean City.
TV and media teacher Gregory Wheeldon said all that was just as important as having audio and visual skills on their college resumes.
"I'm trying to make them problem solvers," he said, "giving them something to do without going down a list of steps with them for how to do it."
About 64 percent of the nation's high schools have a student newspaper, but less than a third of those have an online presence, according to a 2011 survey conducted by the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University.
For Ocean City High School, the merger of The Billows and Current OC was as much a way to learn skills for the job market at it was a class in adapting to a changing world of media.
From 2005 to the end of last year, the school had a weekly student news broadcast called The Wave, but scheduling changes eliminated the timeslot when the students would normally watch the show.
Principal Matt Jamison and Assistant Principal Susan Palmer came up with the idea of reviving the show by streaming it online, and working with the newspaper staff seemed a natural fit.
The TV news segment was renamed Current OC, and now it and The Billows share a website, often collaborating on content.
Wheeldon said it has been popular with the students as well as the larger community.
"We're getting a lot of traffic and a lot more exposure than we ever did," he said.
Much of the work is done during class time but maybe more of it is done after school.
The lead story on the Current OC's first edition is about Hurricane Sandy's effect in Ocean City, with video Farrell shot during and after the storm hit.
Another is about finding inexpensive clothes for school, with video of teens trying on clothes around the Hamilton Mall.
Others have footage of practice for an upcoming student play and of activities at a recent freshman orientation day.
As for the newspaper, the print version has taken a hiatus while the school looks to acquire a printer that could handle printing enough copies for all the students, said Dane Tabano, the English teacher who also advises and oversees the work.
Some of the students expect to use their experience to get a jump on college. Paige Broadley, a junior from Ocean City, said she is interested in pursuing a journalism career, while Erick Ely, a senior of Upper Township, said he is eyeing a future in film.
Others said they don't know what they want to do, but thought it would be good to have a technical background anyway.
The next edition comes out Friday, Dec. 21, with holiday-themed content, such as a segment about underrated Christmas movies and a whimsical look at different uses for fruit cake.
After happily discussing the project for most of the lunch period, the teens sat down at computers and worked with video cameras in the editing lab that would make plenty of actual news companies envious. A few went out into the hallway to record the introduction to a segment.
Wheeldon said it is good to see them learning the advanced tools they have available but it's also meaningful to see them working together in general.
"They say, 'I don't want to work with this person,'" he said, "and I tell them that when you get a job you're going to have to learn work with someone you don't like."
That's something that will probably never change.
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