CCHS Students Visit Sentinel: January 2022

CCHS Students Visit Sentinel
By John Adams and
Jason Gebhardt

HURLEYVILLE, January 2022– On October 18, Investigative Journalism students at the new Collaborative College High School (CCHS) interviewed County Historian and Hurleyville Sentinel editor John Conway, and made many new discoveries.

“Immediately, once we walked in, he began talking about the importance of newspapers in small towns,” said Nicolo Micara, a student in the CCHS Investigative Journalism class. Mr. Conway was very passionate about this, and explained that at one time Narrowsburg, White Lake, Jeffersonville, Wurtsboro and many other Sullivan County towns had newspapers, and some had two. Where once there were all those newspapers, now there are only a few.

Not long ago, small towns used to be self- sufficient. They would likely have a grocery store, pharmacy, newspaper, and whatever else was necessary to preclude residents from having to travel long distances. Some of these once-thriving towns have begun to revitalize, often with the help of external groups or organizations such as The Center for Discovery in Hurleyville. When this happens, residents of the town are usually unaware of what is happening. This can lead to some confusion and misunderstanding as properties are being bought and sold and sometimes leads to opposition towards the movement, which then leads to the revival fizzling out, leaving the town nearly as desolate as it was in the first place. This is where a local newspaper can help, Mr. Conway said.
“I thought it would be a good idea to revive the community newspaper that was here up until the 1940’s,” Mr. Conway said.

The goal was to bridge the communication gap between diverse residents in the small town, and to have a free community newspaper that would allow residents to get reliable news. Since newspapers are becoming more and more passé, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get local news. He wanted to make accessing local news easier.

Mr. Conway also taught the students techniques for writing journalistic articles. They learned about the importance of lead sentences to hook the reader and to front load information.

“It was very much an in-depth learning experience on writing journalistic pieces and what is happening to newspapers,” said Rose Mandelbaum, a seventh grade journalism student. “I enjoyed the experience.”

Kelly Adams, CCHS Investigative Journalism teacher, said that having Mr. Conway available to CCHS as a resource was invaluable. “Our weekly meetings were excellent opportunities for the students to learn from someone who has been involved in journalism as a career.”

At present, Hurleyville is rapidly being improved with new businesses like the Hurleyville Arts Center and CCHS High School, and the newspaper has been a vital step in this renovation, allowing people to get informed on the new and great things in this fine town. The Hurleyville Sentinel has been a great success. However, in the last decade, more than 2,000 American newspapers have winked out of existence, according to Penny Abernathy, a University of North Carolina researcher. CCHS journalism students are excited to be a part of keeping this newspaper alive and full of news.