Dr. Jimmy McCollum Visits Central Digest Staff


Sarah Katheron Latham

DR. JIMMY MCCOLLUM VISITS DIGEST — Dr. Jimmy McCollum speaks to Senior Blake Catlett, editor-in-chief, and Junior Karleigh Schwarzl, sports editor, in Central’s library.

Blake Catlett, Editor

On Friday, March 19, Dr. Jimmy McCollum, director of the Tennessee High School Press Association (THSPA) and professor of journalism at Lipscomb University, visited the staff of the Central Digest. He came to bestow the awards to the Digest’s winners, including a trophy for the entire staff.

“It was an amazing opportunity to be able to sit down and talk to Dr. McCollum. I learned a lot through his leadership and how we can continue to succeed as a staff,” expressed Junior Karleigh Schwarzl, who serves as the Digest’s sports editor.

After the presentation of certificates and the staff’s trophy, McCollum and the Digest’s editor sat down and discussed student journalism, McCollum’s line of work, and the effects of COVID-19 over the past year.

McCollum first earned his bachelor’s through Lipscomb. He then pursued his doctorate, earning his master’s from the University of Tennessee and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama. After earning his Ph.D., he returned to Lipscomb and started teaching and advising the student-led publication, Lumination Network.

McCollum also served on Lipscomb’s publication as a student. During his junior year, he served as news editor, and he was the assistant editor during his senior year. During his time on staff, the publication was physical and was published weekly.

“Part of me kind of misses the tangible newspaper…just being able to walk around the halls and seeing people read it…and thinking to yourself  ‘I helped. I helped produce that,’ so I do kind of miss that,” explained McCollum.

In 2010, Lumination Network transferred its publications to an online source.

“We realized that [it] was the future,” McCollum said.

Dr. McCollum shared how COVID-19 has affected the THSPA over the past year. Many of THSPA’s events, such as the fall workshops and yearly award ceremony, had to transfer to online sources. McCollum is content with the temporary switch, but he misses seeing students on-campus and hopes everything can return to the way it was.

“Again, we’d love to have you guys on Lipscomb’s campus next March,” shared McCollum.

McCollum went on to explain why student journalism is important to him. He believes that student journalism is the “light” that informs the school community, and that it lasts beyond the present, long into the future. Students can always look back and see what was happening at their school at any point in history. He also shared that student journalism can “shed light” on the things that need to be seen. Through this, he believes that it can lead to a better life for all students.

The Digest was honored to welcome Dr. McCollum into Central High School and the newsroom. The staff is looking forward to being the light of Central High for years to come.