The Iowa High School Press Association has a new executive director. David Schwartz took over the position from outgoing director Vanessa Shelton in August.
Schwartz, an Iowa graduate (B.A. 1997) and former editor-in-chief of The Daily Iowan was most recently managing editor of news and photo for Chicago area NorthWest News Group. He holds an M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University.
As director of IHSPA, Schwartz will focus on supporting Iowa high school journalism advisers and motivating their students. "I think that every high school needs to have a journalism curriculum," he said. "It`s too important of a medium in our culture today—regardless of socioeconomic status, of religion, [or] where you live."
Building successful journalism programs statewide, Schwartz said, will also require helping administrators understand why journalism belongs in the budget—especially in smaller schools.
Schwartz also expects new media to play an increasing role in high school reporting. "Everything is headed online," he said. "Journalism needs to be current, relevant and applicable," he added, "while still maintaining ethics, accuracy and strong communication skills."
Shelton, who helped select Schwartz as her replacement, says he understands the importance of the converging media landscape. "He's very well prepared to help the organization and high school journalism in the state move towards this new way of practicing journalism," she said.
Gary Lindsay, president of the IHSPA and an English and journalism teacher at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School, said the role of the executive director is challenging because of the widely scattered nature of journalism programs across the state.
Lindsay said that while the position will entail a certain getting-to-know-you phase, he expects to have a strong working relationship with Schwartz. "I think David will be very good in this job," he said.
Schwartz comes to his new post with considerable experience as a high school journalist. He was editor in chief of his St. Louis-area high school paper, the Parkway High School Norsestar and gained further experience by attending the Ball State University summer journalism workshops in Muncie, Ind. for two years.
"You really came together with people who wanted to be there," he said, explaining the experience of working with other highly-motivated high school journalists. "It was a great experience."
His return to the UI has reconnected Schwartz to the enthusiasm he first found for journalism in high school. "I've been able to meet some high school advisers from all over the state," he said. "They have such a great passion for the business that they've renewed some of my passion for the business as well."
After high school, family ties in Cedar Rapids and the allure of a Big 10 school setting drew Schwartz to college in Iowa City where he soon discovered his next opportunity in journalism.
"I got a copy of The Daily Iowan, and I could not believe it was a college paper," he said. "I knew I wanted to work there." Schwartz spent three years with the DI, finally taking the position of editor-in-chief his last year.
Since entering the professional workforce, Schwartz has kept in contact with high school journalists including conducting high school speaking engagements and supervising high school sportswriters while working as a sports editor for the Northwest Herald.
"We had a couple [high school writers] who came to use because they wanted to see what it was like and both of them decided to major in journalism in college," Schwartz said. "It`s such a good feeling."
Being back at the UI in his new role has been a positive experience for Schwartz. "I`ve been able to meet some high school advisers from all over the state," he said. "They have such a great passion for the business that they've renewed some of my passion for the business as well."
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