Journalism Class Launches Red Cloud Indian School's First Blog

posted on March 12, 2013

For many, online news blogs represent a new frontier in the world of journalism.

Red Cloud High School’s Journalism class, under the direction of teacher Mike Sunderland, has broken into the field by launching “The Mahpiya Luta Times.”  Red Cloud’s first blog, the Mahpiya Luta Times covers daily news on Red Cloud’s campus, from academics to special events and sports.  It also features in-depth interviews with students, faculty and staff, and photos documenting life at Red Cloud.

While Sunderland has taught journalism in the past, launching the blog presented him with a new and unique direction for the class.  

“I want to motivate my students to tell the stories and events going on at Red Cloud in a meaningful way, and I thought that a daily news blog would be the best way to get our work out there,” explains Sunderland.  “In a world that is increasingly going digital, I thought that creating and publishing articles through a blog would be a great experience for the students.  It is allowing them not only to write articles, but also to take photos, create videos and link to other sites on the web.”

So far, his students are meeting the challenge of producing and posting fresh content—including articles and photos—every day.  “Journalism students must produce two original articles with photos each week,” says Sunderland.  “Our goal has been to update daily with new posts, and we have been meeting that goal.” 

Although the blog only launched in January, Sunderland says he already sees its benefits.  “The blog allows students to concretely see the results of their efforts.  They are performing important work by sharing a student perspective on life at Red Cloud,” he explains.

Even with their daily deadlines, journalism students are finding the experience rewarding.

“I have loved writing articles on all the current events happening, because it gets me more involved in Red Cloud's activities,” says Sierra Concha, a journalism student.  “I have been experiencing what being a journalist is like—and I enjoy it a lot.”

Phillip Zimiga, another student in the class, says the blog’s launch has been a success.  “I think the Mahpiya Luta Times blog is going well,” he says.  For Zimiga, the real value of the blog is the coverage of Red Cloud students and the in-depth profiles of their daily work and activities.

David LaDeaux, a senior in the class, explains that it is “a little tough having a daily deadline.”  But according to LaDeaux, the small size of the journalism class has allowed students to receive close supervision and direction from Sunderland, another factor in the blog’s success.  

Sunderland says the Mahpiya Luta Times project is helping journalism students to develop their writing, editing and interviewing skills, and exposing them to the world of online publishing.  Students are supplementing their work on the blog with key readings on journalism and news writing.  Sunderland also encourages his students to read and pay attention to local, regional and national news.  Before the semester is through, he hopes to expand the course to cover elements of broadcast journalism and video production. 

The Mahpiya Luta Times has become a tool to engage not only journalism students, explains Sunderland, but also the broader Red Cloud Community. 

“We have been able to generate a lot of content so far by getting other students in the school involved,” says Sunderland.  “We have collaborated with Pat McElwee's current events class and with Viki Eagle's multimedia class—and students in those classes have shared articles and photos.  And I continue to encourage students outside the journalism class to keep contributing.”

To read the Mahpiya Luta Times, visit: