Complete Yearbook Coverage Includes Everyone–More Than Once

The Prowl, Powell Middle School
The Prowl, Powell Middle School

When considering what to include in the yearbook, your staff looks at all the events on the school calendar, including those things that happen after school or off campus, right? Sports, club activities, dances/proms, fundraisers, student vacations/jobs/community involvement are all discussed when planning the ladder. And they should be. But how much consideration goes into the basic element of coverage–the number of students pictured in the book? If complete coverage of the year is your goal (and we advocate that it should be), then getting everyone into the book is paramount to meeting your goal. But, is that enough? Or better yet, is once enough?

There has been a lot of discussion in yearbook circles over the past few years about what constitutes complete coverage. One line of thinking is that the portrait photo alone is not sufficient coverage, and it should be the goal of every staff to get each and every student into the yearbook once beyond their portrait photo. This is no easy feat, as not all students are involved in school activities which are covered in the yearbook.We admit that the achievement of this goal requires undying dedication, due diligence and dogged determination (and sometimes down-right digging!)

Does all the hard work result in “equal” coverage? That depends. If the goal is to get everyone in the book at least twice, then doing so may still not mean “equal.” If the goal is to get everyone in the book only twice, then doing so may more clearly reflect equality. But those are two completely different goals–one is looking to increase coverage of a certain population, while the other is looking to decrease a certain (but different) population.

Why would anyone want to decrease coverage? Because some people feel yearbooks only cover the “popular” students. One only has to look at the index of most yearbooks to determine which students are in the popular crowd. They’re the students whose names appear with a long string of page numbers behind them. That brings up yet another question: is there such a thing as too much individual coverage? Can a person be in the yearbook too much? Ask 10 different students this question and you’ll get 5 who say “yes” and 5 others who say “no.” In fact, it’s become such a big question across the country that the New York Times picked up on it and wrote an article addressing both sides of this issue titled A Yearbook Dedicated to Inclusion.

They weren’t the only news organization to tackle this topic last week. My Fox Houston, the website for the local Fox affiliate TV station in Houston, posted an article titled “The Yearbook Game is Changing.” They’ve posted the video story that appeared on their news cast as well. Just click on the video to the left of the article.

Both articles raise a lot of good questions. They are great conversation starters for any yearbook staff considering adopting this policy.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and/or the content of the articles, and may even include your comments in a follow-up blog!

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