How Smoke Signals is Made

How Smoke Signals is made

From start to finish: Who and How?

From just a few ideas to a tangible copy of Smoke Signals, so much goes into the process of bringing the Wayne Valley community its best news. 

Creativity and Brainstorming

It all begins with creativity and enthusiasm. The writers and editors come together to brainstorm the best and most interesting ideas. There are always so many possible topics: current events, advice, recipes, trivia, movie reviews, sports news, politics, opinion pieces, Student Spotlights, and countless others. News can be local or global; articles are written on anything that affects or may interest our school. 

Writing and Photography

After picking an article topic that interests the writer, it’s time to start writing. Writing for Smoke Signals is unlike other writing such as essays for English or History class. It’s different because the writer is allowed to choose the article out of their own interests on the topic, bringing passion, and ensuring a quality article. Smoke Signals is composed of diverse students with unique views and interests. Every member of our school’s newspaper can contribute something different. 

Writers are not the only people who make content on the pages. Photography plays a huge role in capturing moments in ways that words cannot describe. People take pictures of events, places, people, and anything else that is interesting. No Smoke Signals publication would be complete without pictures of events, students, or anything else. The newspaper also frequently features artwork that Wayne Valley students have made, another important non-writing contribution to Smoke Signals


The editing process starts after members have sent in their articles and photos. There are many different types of editors, including sports, news, features, social media, layout, specialty, photography, and editors-in-chief. All editors have the exciting job of improving the content that goes into the publication, in different ways. Editors come together to choose which articles to publish in the physical paper, and which go online. Then, the editors go through each article and make changes. Some articles are perfect, but most require edits, grammatically and/or content related. Each article is read through twice, by two different editors. Changes are often made to make the article an easier read, or to give the article life, and make it a bit more interesting. 

Once the articles themselves are edited, the layout editors bring them all together. Layout is the creative process of deciding what the pages look like, where the articles and pictures go, and what the paper will become. The layout editors design each page, which includes the borders, colors, themes, fonts, and much more. They use a program on the computer to place each article, and usually corresponding graphics, like pictures or art. Once the layout process is complete, the paper is ready to be published. 


Smoke Signals is published in two ways: on paper and online. Editors and in charge of making sure the articles and images are posted to The paper is also printed and distributed to homeroom teachers, who then give copies to students. You can also find printed copies around the school, like at the library or by the front office. As a writer, editor, photographer, artist, or anyone that makes a contribution to Smoke Signals, it is always exciting to see the finished product and receive the satisfaction of knowing you contributed to something great!

Why you should join

Although writers, editors, and photographers all have different jobs, they are not limited by their titles. A great perk of being part of our school’s newspaper is the fact that titles do not restrict what you can do. Even if someone is a specific type of editor, they always have the option to contribute to any other parts of Smoke Signals, like writing or photography. A common misconception about joining this club is that you have to be a great writer. This is not true. There are many positions that don’t require writing, like photographers, artists, and layout editors. Even if you are not the best writer, writing contributions are always welcomed and accepted, that’s why we have editors, and you never know if you enjoy writing, or any part of the process, if you never give it a try.