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April 24, 2012

Advising greatness: Jim Lang, FCHS student paper adviser, to receive national award from Ball State

FLOYDS KNOBS — Though he’s getting the award, he credits the work to his students, school and district.

Jim Lang, adviser for Floyd Central High School’s student newspaper, the Bagpiper, will receive the Marilyn Weaver Excellence in Journalism Education Award at Ball State University on Wednesday.

Brian Hayes, director of secondary education services in Ball State’s department of journalism, said the award recognizes journalism educators who work to improve scholastic journalism. Hayes said Lang was suggested in part because of the coverage in March of the tornadoes in Henryville.

“I thought it was really exceptional of him, in the face of tragedy and devastation, to get his students to come together and put that out,” Hayes said.

Lang said production was finished for that issue, but they didn’t expect the damage from the storms to be so bad.

“Our paper was pretty much ready to go on that Friday, and then those storms hit,” Lang said. “Over the weekend, I texted back and fourth with my editors and we got our ideas together.”

He said his students went into the project head first, making the storms their priority.

“By the time they came in Monday morning, they were ready to set some things aside and give that full coverage,” Lang said. “I guess from my perspective as a teacher, it gave them an opportunity to give full coverage to that event.”

Janie Whaley, principal at Floyd Central, said Lang pushes his students to do their best and communicates to them clearly what he expects.

“With Jim, it’s a total package,” Whaley said. “Not only do [his students] write beautifully, but the photography is outstanding. I think that’s because he’s able to convey to his students what he really wants in a product, and I think that’s a rare gift.”

Lang said he’s glad his students have the backing of the district and school administrators when they work on stories. He said to be successful, student publications and their advisers need to support their audience.

“Get your students to write stories that matter, get them out of their school a little to interact with their community and give them the freedom to do so,” Lang said. “My students feel like they’re supported here, but they know they’re not going to be censored by an administration and I think that’s a very, very important message to get out there.”

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