What is HS Insider?

Do you — or your students — have important stories to tell? Are you reporting on topics that you believe deserve a larger audience? Do you want to sharpen your multimedia skills?   

High School Insider enables students to post their stories on LATimes.com, and to report on issues that matter to them and their communities. Through HS Insider, students are provided the opportunity to join a network of more than 100 local schools, attend conferences, and reach thousands with their reporting.

Ready to sign up? Great! Here’s how:

Step 1: See if your school is participating

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Check on the HS Insider site under Schools A-Z to see if your High School is already represented on this list of active schools. If so, send an email to molly.heber@latimes.com, and we’ll tell you about next steps.

Step 2: Sign up a faculty advisor

If your school is not on the list, you need to find a faculty advisor. Sometimes that is the journalism teacher, but it can also be an English, history, or even physical education teacher. For teachers, being a HS Insider advisor is a minimal time commitment and the level of engagement is up to you. Students, feel free to print out or share this document with possible advisors.

Step 3: Send us a permission slip

Each student who would like to participate must turn in a permission slip.

Please also read the Terms of Service and the Privacy Policy. Students should scan and email permission slips to molly.heber@latimes.com At that point, we will send students a how-to guide for setting up a profile and posting their work.

Step 4: Request a visit from LA Times staff

We try and visit every school that wants a visit to answer questions about the program and share with you more about the opportunities for involvement and L.A. Times journalism.

Ways to participate

We are interested in your stories about what it is like to be a teenager in Southern California, developments on campus and issues that matter to you. These stories do not have to follow a traditional news format. They can be told in video, print, SnapChat, text. This is an opportunity for you to be creative and test your storytelling and reporting skills.

There is also no one way to join the HS Insider program on your campus. Here is how some schools have participated:

A school newspaper and journalism program find a larger audience and network: Students and teachers are using HS Insider to post work from their school’s newspaper that they think would appeal to a larger audience, and as a way to connect to more schools and learn about what is happening on their campuses.

Example: At Foothill Technology School in Ventura, the editor-in-chief of the school’s online news site collected permission slips for all the editors and writers and posted their work on HS Insider once the paper was published. Stories included a piece on an Air Guitar challenge and juniors threatening funding by opting out of Common Core.  

English, social studies, and other classes integrate HS Insider into curriculum: Students and teachers outside of journalism classes have used HS Insider as an incentive for assignments, a way to provide their students with a larger platform for their work and to gain new technology skills. These stories have included personal essays, creative writing, poetry and other forms of expression.

Example: At LA River School in Lincoln Heights, an English and History teacher assigned students to submit creative assignments and personal narratives. The students published their stories on HS Insider, including one on being the first in her family to graduate from college and visiting Ovarian Psychos, a female bike group in East LA.

Students expand their journalism opportunities with dedicated HS Insider Clubs: Highly motivated students have created independent systems that can supplement journalism or debate programs or stand on their own.

Example: At Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, students created a club within their journalism class dedicated to creating content for HS Insider. The stories focused on first-person opinion pieces and video content. The club had one student president who sent out weekly story budgets and managed multiple videographers and writers. At the end of the year, students elected a new club leader. Stories included a video about the school’s sailing team and profiles of local artists at their school.

Independent students interested in video or reporting find an advisor and submit stories: Some students want to work independently, and that works for us as well. We just want to make sure that your school knows you are contributing. If there is already a program on your campus, the student can ask the advisor to sign off on your work as well.

Example: At Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, a student who had already received video training through a program at a local YMCA wanted to continue to develop his skills and reporting. He found an advisor and produced a video on a homeless blanket drive that received recognition from the White House and high-level sports videos such as this one on the girls team going to the basketball semifinals.


USC & HS Insider Journalism Day

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On Feb. 28, 2014, over 100 students and advisers representing 38 schools attended a half-day conference at Wallis Annenberg Hall. Students got the opportunity to learn from Annenberg professors and L.A. Times journalists, and some even got to debate Bill Plaschke on top sports issues.

2015 LA Times Festival of Books

At the 2015 Festival of Books, students volunteered to help run a High School Insider area of the Young Adult section, introducing festival goers to the program and helping people sign up for the Family & Friends Newsletter. Some students also participated in a panel discussion at the California Pavilion, sharing their experiences in the program and discussing ways to meaningfully engage Generation Z in the age of cat videos and listicles.

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