Bobby Hawthorne is the Iron Man of Scholastic Journalism. Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe patriarch, he keeps showing up (this is the fourth edition of Radical Write). But just like Robert Downey Jr., each work draws us back in.   And just like with every Tony Stark movie, we know we’re going to find a voice that’s funny but insightful, familiar but fresh.

Bobby Hawthorne’s latest edition will spark the rethinking of your high school publication writing. He’ll have you kids ripping apart their own writing in an effort to challenge themselves to create stronger narrative and voice.  The coolest part is that he does this with – wait for it --  narrative and voice. Crazy, huh. Bobby’s latest edition offers the teenage journalism student a visually inviting and accessible way to rethink their writing.  He gets kids to ask better questions to achieve a stronger narrative..”

— Dow Tate, Shawnee Mission East HS, Shawnee Mission, KS

I got my first copy of The Radical Write in 2002, and I’m not exaggerating—it changed the way I teach writing. After I got that first edition, my students began to write about people, not things, and their writing not only improved, but so did their ability to see and find the stories and to understand the world around them. Instead of writing stories about prom themes, they were telling the story of the prom queen who had been homeschooled until her senior year. Instead of talking about the role of the team manager, they wrote about the student who after serving in that role for four years got to play in his last game and scored four three-pointers in the final minute. This is not your typical book about journalistic writing: it’s slightly ironic, a little humorous and very entertaining as it gives suggestions and common sense tips to improve student writing, and there are tons of examples that let students what good (and bad) writing looks like. Not kidding—a life changer.
— Charla Harris, Pleasant Grove High School, Texarkana, TX

The Radical Write is the Right Choice

“The Radical Write Second Edition was the only text my school district would let me purchase. Not that the powers that be knew anything about journalism, writing, editing, or storytelling, but after eight years of begging, I told them if they would finally agree to buy my program a text -- only one text -- it should be that one. We couldn’t find a better example then, and the fourth edition is more of the same – with just the right level of improvement. 

 Not straying from the horse that brought him (saddled with taskmaster questions and provoking discussion that fosters plenty of weighing and considering, but most importantly thinking), Bobby Hawthorne inserts modern examples pertinent for today’s roller-coaster media world. Armed with the underlying theme of personal responsibility required to find the real story underneath the layers of traditional fluff lurking in many student publications and media today, his style is professional, motivated, and collegiate. As a journalism teacher, I want my students to be challenged, and the author maintains this mentality as he asks the readers to plan a mission. 

 That strategy to relate a great story requires allegiance to the fundamentals of reporting and interviewing, which Mr. Hawthorne addresses in style and substance. In conjunction, he promotes a modern calling to work across all platforms. But his fourth offering is more “radical” than just updated material; flowing through every chapter is the feeling that combining work ethic-driven fundamentals with a guarded appreciation of technology can propel student effort toward realizing the impact of the true story (as opposed to a faceless issue or Heaven forbid another dated article). “We must evolve, or we die,” Mr. Hawthorne bravely notes. That’s probably more for the teachers than the students, but this book serves equally.

 The text is teeming with student work that illustrates the desired path. It also features poor examples that may resemble what the kids are producing. He’s not afraid to address the need for change and if that means challenging the Canon of “formula,” then so be it. The chapters feature sidebars, quick-hitter advice blocks, and even folksy “Bob’s Thumbs up” anecdotal briefs designed to hammer home a particular theme such as the value of an expanded vocabulary or the need to approach interviewing with no assumptions. 

The word “truth” appears often in every chapter. Mr. Hawthorne doesn’t simply hope to educate the students reading this text, he ardently wills them to learn. He implores them to push the envelope. It is obvious; he believes in them and respects their potential. Whether it is setting up the interview, constructing a lead, cultivating sources, captioning a photo or angling a boring story (READ: cliché) toward compelling status, his text is lively, fun, and pointed. He practices what he preaches on each of the 125 pages. 

 Bobby Hawthorne said this edition will feature cool colors on the cover and hip title text. He knows the audience today has to see the work before actually commencing to read it. That’s the challenge he openly covets. Contrary to current views, he believes students want to read; however, the writer must provide content worthy of the effort. His text flows true to this theme. His “in-your-face” style, real-world examples garnered from years of teaching and writing in the field, and short-but-direct approach are focused to this end. It’s a mission that one must choose to accept. I only hope I can somehow pry another book purchase out of the School Board. It’s a book I need to read almost as much as my students.”

Dean Hume, Spark Adviser, Lakota East High School, Lakota, OH