Journalism Q&A with Activities Director Shane Matzen


Activities Director Shane Matzen was a student journalist for both his high school newspaper and yearbook in Eldon, MO. After graduating in 1986, his writing was a focus during his basketball coaching career through game recaps, a monthly newsletter, and website writing. Matzen really enjoys journalism, him and his wife still receive the paper from their hometown.

What influenced you to join newspaper?

I grew up loving to watch sports. My dad was a professional announcer at our high school for basketball and football. When I was a little boy, he’d take me to the games and I’d sit at the scores table and watch him on the microphone. So when I’d be at the football games, I’d go down to the end of the pressbox, take a piece of steel rebar, act like it was a microphone and announce the game while it was going on. I’d put my legs inside the bleacher and act like the bleacher was my table, so from a young age I liked that stuff.

How many years were you on the newspaper staff for your high school?

I worked in our publication/journalism department three out of my four years, sophomore through senior year.

What positions did you hold?

I was the sports editor for the paper, and I did the sports section for the yearbook.

What did you enjoy most about being on a news production?

I kind of liked the pressure of a deadline. I thought it was really neat and it made me focus. I also loved the whole atmosphere around it. It was kind of an odd situation, since you’re a student and you’re involved with things, but you cover those things at the same time. You have to seperate yourself and look at it from a different angle, and I always thought that was really interesting.

How did your writing continue into your coaching career?

Everyone’s got their own thing, and I like writing. I like expressing myself. I think one of the most important things to become a writer is to read a lot, and I love reading. My first coaching job was at Central Methodist University as the assistant mens basketball coach, and I proposed to the head coach to put out a monthly newsletter. We called it the Running Eagle Report, and I would do game summaries for each of our games. That continued into some website writing here at MHS when I was the basketball coach.

What advice would you give to students?

Specifically for journalism, I would say read a lot. When you read a lot, your vocabulary and your range grow exponentially because you see how other people write and what fits your style. One of the greatest things that I learned was when you’re in the middle of a paragraph, you might want to alternate how you call something to keep the flow and interest going, and when you’re a reader, you notice little details like that.

What are your opinions about The Messenger?

I think it’s outstanding; a lot of our writers really take the time to do in-depth work and you can tell there’s quality there. It’s interesting year to year to see what the flavor of the newspaper is. In essence, we are a small town newspaper because you are writing for this community of 2,300 people.

What changes do you see in journalism from when you were a student journalist and current time?

Social media. It’s totally different, so many times there will be stories put out on Twitter. I hope this never happens, but I’m worried there will come a day that we don’t have actual pieces of newspaper thrown in driveways anymore. But you’ve gotta adjust. We have to keep people reading, doesn’t matter if its a piece of paper or a phone.