The Howl is the Utahloy International School of Guangzhou’s student-run newspaper. The website has generated 54,000 views since 2020 and has seen an exponential increase in readership since it launched in 2016 with a mere 3,000 views. A record 75 posts were published last year, a third of which were sports related. And that’s where I come in; I am Ahaan Chakrabarty, The Howl’s sports editor.
I began publishing articles when I was in 10th grade, which primarily consisted of interviews with teachers and fellow student-athletes. This gave me a foundational understanding of what it meant to be a journalist, and as an active team member, writing articles became a reflective, almost cathartic process. It helped me analyze the squad’s performance and share my perspective with the audience, including my teammates.
Soon, I was officially given the title of The Howl’s sports editor, a position I still hold. However, it was not easy at first. I was micromanaging my peers’ work- changing words, rephrasing sentences, and often, even if always unintentionally, changing the tone of their stories. It took a series of interactions to learn how I could give constructive criticism and work with fellow journalists, as opposed to changing their write-ups because they didn’t suit my style. This helped me take a step back and look at my work objectively. I wanted to understand what I could do to improve it. I asked myself how I could make it more exciting. How could I make it more relatable?
Eventually, I realized I was writing the articles I wanted to read, not what the school wanted to read. What I published did not excite readers because they were general summaries of athletic events, a literary replacement for video highlights. I worked with my teacher supervisor and subordinate sports writers to recognize which articles garnered positive feedback (by conducting surveys and analyzing data from the website) in order to bridge my work with the audience’s interests. We discovered that the number of times students were mentioned was proportional to a piece’s success. If parents saw their child in an article, they were more likely to read and publish the story. Thus, this inspired me to create a new column, Athlete of the Month.
Athlete of The Month showcases the best student-athletes at our school. I use it to express myself through creative writing, which attracts new readers and increases readership. Students relate to the use of slang in the articles while being entertained as student personalities and current sports trends are spotlighted. Furthermore, seeing their peers mentioned in international publications has not only encouraged students to perform in more athletic events but create pastiche columns, such as Nerd of the Month, a series presenting the school’s smartest students.
Ultimately, I am grateful to The Howl for giving me the opportunity to work as a journalist. As a result of this experience, I intend to pursue journalism in university, or at the very least, be an influence and advocate for sports through the media.
Be sure to have a read of some of the brilliant stories on The Howl. As the site says, “Keep up with the pack!”
Ahaan Chakrabarty is a Year 12 student at Utahloy International School of Guangzhou. He is the sports editor for the school newspaper, The Howl.