Shine news

Ten ways to make your school magazine or newspaper shine 🗒️

Hello everyone,

Last month I told you about our (actual) roving reporter Liz Hunt’s visit to Strood Academy in Rochester. Maybe some people reading this might remember Senior Editor Liz from our teacher forums we hold on Shine Award days every summer.

The purpose of Liz’s visit was to help students keen to put together a great Shine entry. We like to be as fair as possible, so Liz has kindly written up her talk into ten invaluable ideas and guidelines to follow to help create a better publication. We’re publishing them here for the benefit of everyone keen to get involved in Shine 2024…

  1. Your front page
    It needs to pack a punch visually and sell what you have put together inside. Avoid making it too ‘busy’ – small fonts/pics/images. That’s very offputting to the reader. You want to lure them in. Intrigue them, not put them off from the start.
  2. ‘The Mix’
    A good publication – in print or online – delivers a range of subjects (serious, light-hearted, picture-led, gossipy, interviews, polemic, heart-warming, news, features/theatre or film reviews, poetry, think beyond the school – are there interesting people to interview in the wider community/ex pupils who have done interesting things/ travel articles). Never have two very serious pieces following on from each other. Break up ‘the run’.
  3. Headlines are very important
    They are your ‘hook’ to reel the reader in. It’s what we call projection. There’s no point in having the most fascinating, beautifully written piece if it’s got a bad headline and people just flick over it because it looks like it might be ‘boring’.
    Headlines (and decks – the additional lines of explanation underneath – not always necessary) can be sensational/witty/very straight – but the words they use should be short and punchy. Look at The Sun (paper/online) for inspiration! Contrast and compare with how The Times or Telegraph do it.
  4. Pictures
    Choose them carefully, ‘crop’ them well and present them intelligently. They need to add something to what’s written on the page.
  5. Remember that truly great pictures can be stand-alone – with just a caption.
  6. Punctuation and spelling
    These are crucial aids to clarity. You have no excuse for typos with spellcheck!
  7. Look to provoke, challenge, intrigue your readers
    Include pieces that get them thinking. Not every piece of course… but make sure there is ‘grit’ in ‘The Mix’.
  8. Never forget your readers
    Who are they and what are they interested in? Without considering this, your project becomes a vanity project that you are cooking up for yourselves. You want as many people as possible – students/teachers/parents – to dip into this and be impressed. Of course, you must put your stamp on your publication – but you want lots of readers, too.
  9. Work up a Shine strategy
    Look at the categories for individual awards and decide what to target depending on your strengths.
  10. Get out and seek contributions from fellow pupils
    Find the writers/ artists/ influencers/ photographers/ sports obsessives/ musicians/ performers… whoever and whatever – give them a chance to ‘Shine’. Do whatever it takes! Nag them. Put up posters/make an appeal at assemblies etc. Ask to speak to each class. Tell them about Shine and the Awards Day trip to London. Be brazen!


Thank you Liz! What a fantastic list – I am sure that will help a great many students. If it has, please tell us all about it… or anything else you’d like to know from Liz and I’ll see what I can do to get you an answer.

Remember Shine Award entries can be pretty much anything, from podcasts, projects that use several media as well as printed magazines or school newspapers.

The new year is a great time to register for Shine… tell us about what you’re up to by emailing, then our entry form will be launching from next week… but watch this space for that update.

Til next time,

Chair of Shine