Journalists are servants. Having a servant's heart is crucial to leading any team.
My leadership philosophy is based on taking risks. I believe it is not beneficial to keep following the same practices carried out year-in and year-out, and there is always an opportunity to improve. A great leader encourages their team to work hard. Whenever something does not go in their favor, learn to pivot and take a chance with a new plan of action. More specifically, my philosophy in the newsroom is to encourage the staff I lead to connect and captivate the students by taking risks in the stories we tell in the way we research and present a story.

Editing, Leadership and Team Building

TAJE STUDENT ADVISORY PANEL
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After participating in several of their competitions, I became very familiar with the Texas Association of Journalism Educators. Whenever they introduced the application for their first student advisory board, I filled it out hoping to be one of the five journalists that got to represent Texas journalism. I made it onto the team along with four ladies from different parts of Texas. My biggest role on the panel is to coordinate the Fall Fiesta convention and create engagement on
social media and in-between sessions. I manage the TAJE social media pages and create promotional content such as videos and posts to promote contests.
 
The photo above is with Leah, Cara, Azuzena and Zenobia at the 2019 Fall Fiesta convention in San Antonio, Texas. I learned all about the work it takes to create a convention from this experience.
Click here to view the press release.
Click here to view the social media content I produced during the 2019 Fall Fiesta convention.
Click here to view the COVID-19 contest promo.
PROSPER ISD CAREER DAYS
Career days were some of my favorite days in elementary and middle school, and they turned out to be some of my favorites in high school as well. In my sophomore and junior years, I was allowed to present at several career days in Prosper ISD. With early career goals of becoming a teacher, I loved sharing my passion for journalism with the kids who were
2019 Reynolds Middle School career day
2019 Reynolds Middle School career day

Grant Johnson answers questions from students in eighth grade.

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2020 Cockrell Elementary School Career Day
2020 Cockrell Elementary School Career Day

Grant Johnson answers questions from second grade students about broadcast journalism at Cockrell Elementary.

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2019 Reynolds Middle School Career Day
2019 Reynolds Middle School Career Day

Haylee Brown, Anica Hankey, Grant Johnson and Cristina Folsom give presentation to seventh grade students about news stories.

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2019 Reynolds Middle School career day
2019 Reynolds Middle School career day

Grant Johnson answers questions from students in eighth grade.

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a little younger than me. During our career day presentation, we explained what news and sports reporting is, gave them a virtual tour of our broadcast studio, allowed them to ask questions, and then gave them the opportunity to create their own reports about a movie theater opening in town.
Click here to view the presentation.
At the end of the presentation, we allowed students to make their own news reports using our equipment and a script we prepared ahead of time. During the Q&A session, I edited together the reports so the students could see their work before they left for the next career presentation. 
Click here to watch the student's reports.
Several weeks after the career day at Cockrell Elementary, the counselor delivered these notes that the students made for us:
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"You made me want to go to Eagle Nation News when I'm in high school."
"Our students benefited so much in learning about broadcasting."
February 24, 2020
February 24, 2020

Hill Top News leaders take a tour of the empty studio space at Rock Hill High School just before construction of their set began.

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September 8, 2020
September 8, 2020

Hill Top News leaders pose for a photo after completing their first live broadcast in the completed studio.

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February 24, 2020
February 24, 2020

Hill Top News leaders take a tour of the empty studio space at Rock Hill High School just before construction of their set began.

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FROM THE GROUND UP: BUILDING A PROGRAM IN A PANDEMIC
At the end of my junior year, I was presented with a dilemma that completely changed my high school experience. I was given the opportunity to spend my senior year at the new second district high school, and while I was very hesitant at first, it became one of the best decisions I've ever made. The idea of starting fresh, a clean slate, and no prior expectations scared me coming from a broadcast program with over a decade of tradition. I didn't know if I was ready to set the standard and create a new program's culture. I took what I had learned at Eagle Nation News about show production, graphics, and leadership and built upon those principles when building the Hill Top News program. I was involved in every step of the journey from choosing the design of the studio to building the rundown for every live news show. Opening a school in a pandemic is an experience that not many people can say they have had, but we did it with great success. Within just seven weeks of being together, we placed third place in Texas for a broadcast news program. In addition to the success of the HTN program, we also created a collaborative media program called Rock Hill Media. The collaboration of programs was something that my former school lacked and was one of my priorities when starting the programs at Rock Hill High School. It never made sense to me why media organizations on the same campus should feel like they are competing against each other and this mindset is one I am glad is not present at Rock Hill. The Hill Top Times, Rock Hill Radio, Blue Hawk Yearbook and Hill Top News all work together every day.
The photos above were taken 197 days apart. Hill Top News's student leaders were some of the first students ever to step foot in the Rock Hill building, and we were in awe of the blank canvas that we had. Now, we admire the beautiful studio that we have been given.
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MAKING CHANGE AT ENN
At Eagle Nation News, my adviser was approached by the principal of my high school and asked if they could take our designated time slot when we broadcast out of the bell schedule and play our broadcast program during lunch instead. Our adviser agreed with the request and this decision was made without the opinion of myself and the other student leaders of the program. Whenever the decision was revealed to us, we knew that it would be a significant challenge considering no student would want to spend their lunch period with the newscast playing over their only social time in the day. On the contrary, we realized that this would set us up for the real world as news consumers aren't forced to sit down and watch a news show. For five weeks, we produced two different live shows that broadcasted during the five student lunch periods. Doing a live daily show is a challenge in itself, and doing two a day significantly decreased the show's quality.
Click here to watch Eagle Nation News Season 7, Episode 23 Version A
Click here to watch Eagle Nation News Season 7, Episode 23, Version B
As outlined in my leadership philosophy in the header, I saw that it was necessary to pivot our show production to a new format after seeing the quality of the show decrease. I met with the principal and my adviser several times and devised a plan to move our show from lunch to eight minutes of the student's 30-minute student hall period. I gave a presentation regarding the changes to our staff, and we began our new show just a week later. 
Click here to view the presentation.
As a result of this change that I made, we went from creating two shows a day that we weren't proud of to creating ones that led to a Pacemaker win and changed our community. The version A /B shows above were produced just three months apart from the one below.
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EDITING WRESTLING PACKAGE
As a part of my News Director role at Hill Top News, I am a mentor to the beginning broadcast students and edit their stories. Ashley Sallaway and Tyler Nelson both did similar stories about the challenges that COVID-19 has placed on Rock Hill High School's wrestling program. These stories are the first ones that both of these reporters have done, so I wanted to help them modify their stories to eventually have them air. I spent the week with them correcting their story to be ready to go on air. Both of the stories had similar focus statements, so we combined the best parts of each story and made it into one broadcast package.
Click here to view Ashley's original story.
Click here to view Tyler's original story.
Click here to view the feedback I provided.
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Grant Johnson demonstrates where L and J cuts can best be used in the story with Broadcast 1 student, Ashley Sallaway.
 
Watch the edited story below.
ROGERS MIDDLE SCHOOL
Without the mentors that have guided me on my journey, I would not be the person I am today. The benefits that I have found from having a mentor are why I decided to become a mentor for the Rogers Middle School media program students for the past two years. My favorite days in middle school were those whenever the high school broadcast students visited our class and helped us on our projects. After the mentorship program was eliminated from our schools, I spoke to the middle school adviser about potentially reviving the program to be a resource for those students. With a little coordination, we got the program up and running, and my partner and I traveled to the middle school. We were able to act as a tool for young journalists, offering our time for two hours every other week. While we were there, we edited their stories, accompanied them during interviews, and helped them write scripts for their broadcast. We saw real results and improvement in their stories and broadcasts just after a few weeks of visits. 
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Grant Johnson gives Rogers Middle School students a tour of the Eagle Nation News studio during a visit.

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Grant Johnson explains the story pitch board to the Rogers Middle School students.

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Grant Johnson gives Rogers Middle School students a tour of the Eagle Nation News studio during a visit.

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ATTENDING CONVENTIONS
During my high school career, I attended the 2019 TAJE Fall Fiesta Convention, 2020 NSPA/JEA Fall Convention and 2021 STN Convention.
 
The first thing that I love about conventions is challenging my skills in on-site competitions. I am no stranger to working quickly under a deadline but having to create content in a different city than your own is quite difficult. At the 2019 Fall Fiesta, I competed in the five-hour broadcast feature challenge with the prompt "student journalists at work".
 
 
At the 2021 STN convention, the HTN staff competed in the "Crazy 8 Morning Show" competition. We successfully produced an eight-minute newscast in eight hours based on the prompt "Today in Town".
I also enjoy being able to attend sessions and learn new skills that I can bring back to my team. While I am at conventions, I like to network with other student journalists from different schools. Many of the student journalists I have met at conventions, I interact with on social media and communicate with weekly. 
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VATV COLLABORATION
After the 2020 TAJE Fall Fiesta convention, Kate Carson, Editor of VATV reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in meeting up to share ideas for our broadcast teams. Initially, we had a Zoom call scheduled but then realized we were only 30 minutes away from each other so we could meet in-person instead. We set up a meet-up to host the Van Alstyne High School broadcast team after school and ten of the students from VATV and ten from HTN sat together to share ideas and offer insight into how they produce each show. The shows are so different, with HTN broadcasting live daily and VATV broadcasting monthly pre-recorded, so each school was able to gain tips from the other.
 
Margie Carson, Alli Cholette, Kate Carson, Mollie Gallagher, Juan Duron, Grant Johnson and Sarah Cronin pose for a photo after their meet up at Rock Hill High School. 
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QUILL AND SCROLL STUDENT ADVISORY BOARD
I was inducted into the Quill and Scroll National Honor Society during my junior year and was later introduced to the National Student Advisory Board and decided to apply. After making it onto the board, I met with the seven other members from Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa and Texas, along with Jeff Browne, the Executive Director of Quill and Scroll.
 
During my time on the board, I focused on a national project promoting news literacy. I communicated with Emily Revera of Florida and Mizuki Kai of Texas, managed the Quill and Scroll social media page, and prepared for the launch. It was a challenge to become available simultaneously as we are working across state lines, but we were able to communicate effectively to have a successful launch.
I was invited to appear on the organization's podcast, The Source to speak about Scholastic Journalism Week 2021.
 
Click here to listen to the episode.
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NUMBER FIVE MARKET 
Living on the outskirts of a large city has proved to be a great benefit for me. Dallas is the fifth-largest television market so the nation's best journalists come to Dallas to work. Over my high school career, several journalists have become mentors for me and have helped me improve my craft. Through interactions on social media, zoom calls and in-person visits, I have met with broadcast journalists from all 4 of the largest news stations in Dallas. The
best mentor that I have had is Steve Noviello from FOX 4 news. When I was younger, Noviello was one of the reporters I watched every morning so whenever he DMed me asking to see my work I was overjoyed. Through the course of the past year, I have met with him on several accounts to review my stories, demo reel, and just for general advice.
Click on any photo in the gallery to the right to enlarge it and read the caption.
Steve Noviello
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CBS 11 Studio Tour
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Tiffany Liou
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Marc Fein
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Anne Elise Parks
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Keith Russell
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