By Marshall Gatlin

In April,the Grace Christian School’s Journalism class visited the offices of Osprey Observer Community Newspapers in Brandon. We learned about what the paper does, how it does it, and what makes it different from other papers.

For the tour, our class split into two smaller groups. My group was taken into a smaller room by Marie Gilmore, the editor and publisher, where we watched a short historical video first. After that we read some of the current edition of the newspaper, and were asked a couple questions. We were challenged with naming different logos on a piece of paper, and almost everyone got every single question right. This challenge was used for the purpose of explaining how marketing and advertising are so effective.

After this, our groups switched and we got to meet the people who are behind the scenes at Osprey Observer. We met the Director of Marketing, Assignment Editor, Billing Manager, Layout Editor, and the Multimedia News Editor. They explained to us what each person did and how they did their jobs. A couple questions were asked and they were answered in detail and explained fully.

Patricia Tracy, Director of Marketing, manages all the marketing activities, campaigns, and advertisements. Michelle Colesanti, Assignment Editor, assigns the editorial to freelancers. Terry Vassalotti, Billing Manager, bills people or companies for advertising in the paper. She can do this many ways, including mail and online. Kathi Hayes, Layout Editor, uses a program to put the newspaper together by putting articles and advertisements into a layout. Cyndi Cisneros, Multimedia News Editor, sends out the paper in email form to people who have followed the Osprey Observer and use a smartphone or tablet.

At last we went on a scavenger hunt that tricked some kids. Before we got them, Cisneros warned us to read all the instructions, but a couple of kids didn’t. The instructions were: 1. Read all the instructions first, 2. Find the Director of Marketing and name one fun place that advertises in our newspaper, and receive a business card, 3. Find our Assignment Editor and name one column of our newspaper and get a pen from her, 4. Find our Billing Manager and name one way our clients can pay for ads, and then receive a baggie from her, 5. Find our Layout Editor, tell her how many papers we publish, and then get a notebook from her, 6. Find our Multimedia News Editor, tell her one way our readers can get the news, and then receive a treat from her, 7. Before leaving, find our Managing Editor and tell her your favorite part of the tour, and 8. At the bottom it read “Have fun. Thank you for visiting us at the Osprey Observer!”

I asked some students what they thought about it and I got responses like, “Very fun and educational,” “Nice people,” “Fun and interesting.”One kid said he liked that just because the facility was smaller that it didn’t mean they couldn’t make a lot of newspaper issues. Our teacher, Mrs. Rebecca McKeen said, “The staff was extremely friendly and informative.”

Overall, the trip was educational, fun, and displayed every virtue a newspaper staff should have. I enjoyed the tour and believe everyone else did. The staff were outstanding and made it fun to learn.

Marshall Gatlin is a fifth grade
student at Grace Christian School and is interested in pursueing a career in journalism.