Thursday, April 16, 2015

Obsolete Media? I Think Not

The Problem
Many high school journalism programs are being terminated across the nation. The lack of money that many public schools now face and a decreasing interest in journalism is forcing districts to stop offering the class.  This is because most school districts think of journalism as simply an elective. However, as an active writer on Mason High School's newspaper, The Chronicle, I can easily tell you why journalism is much more than an elective to everyone in the community.

The Reasons

The constant decrease of journalism classes and high school publications across America comes down to three factors- money, interest, and social media. School's shrinking budgets, lack of student enrollment, and social media outlets give districts the excuse to cut the class becasue students can recieve news through social media. Vikki Ortiz Healy of the Chicago Tribune wrote, "In an era of tight school budgets, high-stakes testing and changing news consumption habits, the once time-honored tradition of offering students the chance to be newspaper reporters has joined the list of school activities becoming obsolete for today's students." 

The Truth
With the creation of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets, students are under the impression that they are truly up to date with the news in their community. However, social media does not provide the same degree of interaction that comes with newspapers and broadcasts. You see the person's face and you listen to them tell their story when you sit down and watch a school broadcast. You get to hear what students have to say in extensive coverage when you pick up any school paper. You don't get this connection with social media. In a high school world where students feel surrounded by unknown faces and are struggling to find their place, journalism makes that world easier to navigate. At MHS, teachers are refusing to play our broadcast news program, MBC, becasue they believe there isn't enough time in a class bell. This is utterly ridiculous. Besides the fact that  MBC takes all of about 10 minutes, the program localizes our monsterous school into one community. While watching the last edition of MBC, I met a boy named Kusha. I had seen Kusha's face and dark brown hair in the hallway, but had never known who he really was. MBC changed that. I now know that Kusha is the founder of the Mason Community Horn Ensemble. Kusha brought adults, teacher, and students together with their passion for music. I would have never known that without MBC. I also never saw that post on Instagram. Journalism is essential to a united student body. Writing for The Chronicle, I have met more people and more amazing stories than I ever thought possible. Media is not a dying art. Students need to stay informed and need to hear the stories that I have encountered. For example, I wrote a story this year about Lauren Hill. Lauren was a basketball player at Mount Saint Joseph and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The doctors gave her 2 months to live. Lauren continued to stay positive and play the sport she loved while inspiring thousands of people. I got the chance to talk to her coach about what he thought about Lauren's character and how she impacted the team. Without journalism, I would have never talked to Mount Saint Joseph's basketball coach about his dying player. I doubt many students at MHS would have heard from his perspective as well. Journalism should be the last class districts cut on a tight budget, solely because of its power to connect people with faces and stories that they would not have seen otherwise. I have enjoyed every moment writing for The Chronicle and I wouldn't give it up for the world. According to Sally Renaud, executive director of the Illinois Journalism Education Association,"(Journalism) offers a sense of a vibrant intellectual community in the school. The kids are thinking, they're reporting what the other kids are doing, they get outside of themselves. It's bad to lose that sense of community." I couldn't end this post with a more fitting quote.