Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Celebrating a Century of Scholastic Journalism Education

JEA Centennial

Presidential Q&A: Mark Newton, 2011-2017

Mark Newton, JEA president 2011-2017.

Mark Newton’s career path was sparked by his high school journalism teacher and basketball coach. In fact, he said he “wanted to be the fantastic Gary Cordray.” Little did he know he would have that same influence on his own students including Megan Fromm who followed in his footsteps to advise at Grand Junction,(Colorado) High School and serve on the JEA Board when Newton was president in 2011-2017.

Supportive and inspirational, Newton’s terms as president were marked with his focus on people. He focused on inclusivity and making members feel welcomed. He led the search for the JEA Executive Director when Kelly Glasscock was hired.

How did you get started in scholastic journalism?

At Grand Junction High School during my junior and senior years, I was on the staff of The Orange and Black. I was hooked. I went to the University of Northern Colorado, the state’s lead teacher education school, and majored in Journalism Education (the last class to be able to do that) and Physical Education, and minored in English Education and Driver’s Education. My first job out of college was at Prescott (Arizona) High School teaching journalism and advising the newspaper and yearbook. That started a 35-year career in scholastic journalism.

When did you get involved in JEA?

I remember attending a state high school journalism convention in high school and participating in a contest or two. My high school adviser was involved and so when I became a teacher/adviser, I knew I had to be involved. I went to a national convention in Tucson, probably in 1985 or 1986. I was a member of the Arizona Interscholastic Press Association. When I moved back to Colorado after teaching in Arizona the first five years, I joined the state association and somehow ended up the JEA state director for Colorado.

How did JEA involvement affect your career?

It was the second-best thing I ever did in scholastic journalism. The professional development and camaraderie were energizing. The first best thing was teaching and advising my two children.

During your time as president, JEA experienced some growing pains. What are some of the most significant things you and the board dealt with?

It was time to renew the contract with Kansas State University and a lot of administrative changes left us not knowing what to expect. After negotiations, the contract was renewed for several years and headquarters remained in place. We were developing even more programs to benefit members, so the curriculum initiative got underway at the same time we were working at restructuring the board and hiring Kelly Glasscock as the next executive director.

Mark Newton with Megan Fromm.

What are some special moments that stand out in your time with JEA and scholastic journalism?

Seeing my son and daughter earn national recognition for their personal and publication achievements. Seeing my former students (especially Megan Fromm) excel in the journalism and teaching/advising professions. Seeing my colleagues at conventions and workshops. I appreciated it all.

What was the best part of being president?

Working with amazing people, from headquarters staff to advisers to professionals to students. I was in awe!

Where would you like to see JEA focus in the future?

JEA needs to reimagine AI and just be there for journalism teachers and media advisers. There are so many issues (media and news literacy, student [and adviser] freedom of expression, funding, etc.) that must be addressed from a standpoint of knowledge and professionalism. JEA has always done that and I hope it will continue to be.

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