New Octagon adviser Paul Bauman. (Photo by Jacqueline Chao)

Staff adjusts to sudden switch in newspaper adviser

Country Day’s award-winning newspaper underwent a massive change this fall due to a sudden switch in the staff’s adviser. 

Paul Bauman, 11th-grade English teacher Jane Bauman’s husband and a former copy editor at The Sacramento Bee, took over after the Octagon’s previous adviser stepped down in early November.

“The whole (process) only took about two days,” head of high school Brooke Wells said. 

“He was absolutely qualified for the job.”

Bauman worked as a journalist in the U.S. and Japan for 38 years before retiring this May, and he has design, writing and editing experience.

For the past 18 years, Bauman worked at The Sacramento Bee and was the sports copy desk chief from 2001 to 2007, supervising copy editors in the sports department.

“Copy editors edit wire and staff stories, trim them to fit in the print edition and write headlines and captions,” Bauman said.

Along with this journalism experience, Bauman was editor-in-chief of the Rio Mirada newspaper at Rio Americano High School when he was a student there and, later, the co-sports editor of the Stanford Daily.

Bauman worked at the Stanford Daily at the same time as Fels, who started the Octagon in 1977. However, Bauman said he and Fels did not know each other at the time, as they worked in different departments, and Fels was two grades above Bauman. 

At Stanford, Bauman majored in communications, specializing in print journalism. 

“I debated between journalism and law school after college and ultimately decided that my heart was in journalism,” Bauman said.

This love for journalism encompasses all sections, according to Bauman; however, he prefers news, sports and opinion pieces.

“I like profiles because people are interesting ­­— everyone is different and has a story to tell,” Bauman said.

“I also like opinion columns because some people deserve to be skewered.”

As for why he enjoys sports writing, Bauman quoted Ann Killion, a sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, who wrote in January 2017: “It’s not life or death, but sports has the ability to stir our souls, fire our passion, make us feel alive. As we saw in 2016, it can be a mindless escape, a platform for social issues, a vehicle for pride and equality. And a hell of a lot of fun.”

Bauman said the highlight of his time as co-sports editor at the Daily was covering Stanford football games. 

Besides his journalism background, Bauman said his hobbies include reading, traveling and playing tennis. Although he retired earlier this year, he said that his website on Northern California tennis, which he started in 2011, has kept him busy. 

“I had been covering tennis in addition to editing at The Sacramento Bee, but management told me I had to edit full-time because of layoffs,” Bauman said.

So Bauman made a website as an alternative platform to write about and cover tennis.

“Tennis is my favorite sport to write about,” Bauman said. “It is the ultimate physical and mental challenge — a fascinating combination of geometry, ballet and boxing.”

Although he has been connected to the school since 2001, when he moved back to Sacramento after 27 years of living around the U.S. and in Japan, Bauman has never worked at Country Day before.

His children, Jeff Bauman, ’06, and Claire Bauman, ’09, joined the school when they were in the eighth and fifth grades, respectively, and his wife, Jane, has worked at Country Day since 2002.

Paul and Jane Bauman, who both grew up in Sacramento, met as juniors at Rio Americano.  

“I’ve read the Octagon periodically since Jeff and Claire came to Country Day,” Paul Bauman said.

“I appreciate the reporting, writing, photos, graphics, variety and creativity.”

Although Bauman has held the job of Octagon adviser only since early November, he said that he is becoming more comfortable with the Octagon’s system, which is different from that of The Bee.

“One challenge is to maintain high standards while realizing that the students aren’t professionals,” Bauman said.

“I’d like to use my experience to help the staff: I will stress fundamentals because I often saw a lack of them during my career.

“As I told the students, my goals are for them to continue to produce an outstanding newspaper, learn a lot and have fun.”

Bauman said that because he has been the adviser for only a few weeks, he does not yet know if he will make any major changes to the paper. 

According to senior Allison Zhang, one of the Octagon’s five editors-in-chief, Bauman’s journalism experience and knowledge will definitely benefit the newspaper this year. 

“He has way more newspaper experience than the five of us combined, and with that comes general editing expertise,” Zhang said.

Zhang said that content, grammar and story angles are some of the areas that Bauman may enhance in the paper.

However, Zhang added having a change in adviser in the middle of the year has come with its challenges, specifically in getting Bauman up to speed on the Octagon’s system.

“The five of us editors have gotten a rhythm going, so getting Mr. Bauman used to our system while also incorporating his expertise and his knowledge was a bit tough,” Zhang said.

“Mr. Bauman was just dropped in and expected to know everything already, so we are taking time to walk him through our system.”

The editors and Bauman have been able to work well together so far, according to Zhang, although it is an ongoing process. 

“We just need more time for everyone to get used to the new system,” Zhang said.

“But for the most part, we’ve all met and gone over things, and we’re all on the same page.”

—By Anna Frankel

Originally published in the Dec. 4 edition of the Octagon.

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