Communications Department launches HW Media


As students submit course selections for the upcoming school year, many will notice a shift in the offerings from the communications department. Individual journalism classes such as print, broadcasting, and yearbook have unified, marking the creation of HW Media.

Communications department head Jen Bladen came up with the idea in September. She shared that the purpose of the program is to allow students to broaden their experience and explore all aspects of journalism.

On both campuses, students who sign up for HW Media will be required to contribute to all publications, learning a variety of styles and taking on various roles.

“It’s not fair for you to be thinking in terms of ‘either/or’ when you’re in school, I think you should be thinking in ‘both/and’,” Bladen said. “My hope is that you will love Spectrum so much that you think you want to go on to Chronicle but you also get a taste of broadcast so you end up doing both.”
“It gives students who are interested in producing media an opportunity to sample the various forms instead of just being dedicated to one form,” English and communications teacher Michael Chavez said.
Bladen plans for HW Media to give students an opportunity to have a more professional experience.

“What you learn at HW in almost every other category is in line with what’s going on in the professional field associated with it, except for [journalism],” Bladen said. “In communications classes at HW, we were still living in silos, we were still separated from each other, and that’s just not the way it is in the real world.”

Bladen shared that there were many figures involved in the pursuit of this change, supporting and executing her plan.

“I met with 14 people,” Bladen said. “The good news is that every time I met with those fourteen people, they thought it was a great idea. That was very encouraging.”

Head of middle school Jon Wimbish said that this adjustment will connect students to experiences beyond the school community.
“I’d say the main goal is collaboration, learning a well-rounded set of skills, and existing in journalism the same way that journalists exist in the ‘real world’,” Wimbish said.
An additional discussion that took place revolved around selecting an HW Media logo. After brainstorming, it was decided that the final branding would incorporate the HW logo and the school crest.

“We want it to be obvious to people who are not in our community that it is Harvard-Westlake,” Bladen said. “We were trying to design a logo that looked more like CNN or NBC News, and we realized that what we really want people to see when they see our logo is HW first and media second.”
Once HW Media was finalized, the faculty shared the news with the students.
“We had a meeting on the last day before winter break where we met with all of the upper school [reporters] and we presented the idea to them,” Bladen said. “The initial reaction of the upper school was not positive. Some of them threatened to quit. It was really negative at first and I think it’s simply because change is hard.”

Bladen shared that after the initial meeting, she and Chronicle adviser Billy Montgomery and HWTV adviser Max Tash met with students individually to explain the shift in greater depth. Students soon warmed up to the idea, eventually showing excitement.

“We had another meeting last Tuesday [March 7], and everybody was super enthusiastic and positive,” Bladen said. “The kids who threatened to quit were at that meeting and really positive.”

As the new year approaches, anticipation is building.

“I feel really good about it,” Wimbish said. “Our journalism programs are great, so I wouldn’t call it necessary, but as it is better, then why not always pursue something that is better?”