The Talon, Magazine

Woodberry Forest School

Each year, the National Scholastic Press Association recognizes excellence in student media with scholastic journalism’s preeminent award, the Pacemaker. Pacemakers are awarded in each category of publication — online, newspaper, yearbook, magazine and broadcast.

Entries are judged by teams of professionals based on the following criteria: coverage and content, quality of writing and reporting, leadership, design, photography and graphics.

NSPA contacted Karen and Rich Broaddus, advisers of 2015 Magazine Pacemaker recipient The Talon for a Q&A. The Talon is the student-run literary magazine of Woodberry Forest School in Woodberry Forest, Virginia. The Talon staff won a Pacemaker for the Spring 2015 issue of their publication.


NSPA: Tell us a little bit about the editors and staff of your Pacemaker-winning publication.

Karen Broaddus, adviser: Our lead designer, Rob Prater, put the magazine together as a junior with a talented young staff. The cover design and the sculpture it featured were both done by Chris Oldham, a sophomore editor. Our prose editors were juniors as well.


NSPA: How did the staff ensure the quality of the publication?

KB: Editors organized the blind review process. The editorial boards were composed of many talented students — authors and artists in their own right. Prose and poetry editors work individually with authors on content revision and mechanical edits. We found it very helpful this year to solicit initial impressions (publish or not?) and commendations/recommendations for each piece from all board members prior to meetings. We collected this data for each packet with an online survey tool and made the data available to the editors prior to the meetings.


NSPA: Is there any one story, photo, or package that stood out during the year?

KB: Two writers worked particularly long and hard on style and tone. Andrew Harris tackled free-verse and metrical poetry with emotional content while Rob Willis played with format and story telling in “Last Words: Redacted.”


NSPA: Tell us about a hardship or obstacle you felt your staff overcame.

KB: The editors did not have any time during the academic day to work on the magazine — most were varsity athletes with afternoon sports commitments. They had to make time in the evenings and on the weekends despite Saturday classes.


NSPA: What qualities will you remember most about this Pacemaker-winning staff?

KB: Our editors were all willing to learn on the job, whether it was technical (Indesign, Photoshop) or interpersonal (running review board meetings, fielding criticism during walk-throughs) or detail oriented (double-checking titles/authors/dimensions or reading a piece for the 21st time).


NSPA: What does the Pacemaker mean to you and your staff?

KB: Having a review based on publishing standards by a professional organization outside our school community has helped our editors set high goals for The Talon.