February 19-25 is Scholastic Journalism Week. It's never been more important...
Everyone in the neighborhood right now is busy with page creation and submission, selling more copies of your book, for some selling more ads. Hopefully you've been reading the home page story here recently for plenty of tips and ideas on those subjects.
So this week let's go with this important posting...
This week is recognized across the country as Scholastic Journalism Week. And it couldn't come at a better time.
Even if you don't pay attention to news regularly you surely have heard plenty. The first month of the new Trump Administration in Washington has been interesting to say the least. "Roller coaster" would be an apt description.
I've never seen a President ever take on the media as Donald Trump has done. In some respects I agree with him - there ARE some biased reporters in Washington and around the nation, no doubt. Most of those reporters and media outlets are biased against conservatives and Republicans, again no doubt. Their reporting makes it pretty obvious and they should be called on it.
How can you recognize bias? Think about English class - it's all about tone and word choice. I can usually tell immediately how a reporter thinks about a subject or a person just by reading the words, listening to the tone or watching body language on video. Even the "best" reporters and commentators and column writers make it pretty obvious.
But our new President has really crossed some lines with his comments - my opinion. I thought Mr, Trump did a little too much talking "from the hip" during last year's campaign and he has certainly continued that trend. He has gone too far with some of his comments.
And we've all heard about "fake news" in the past year. I really struggle with the idea that there are people out there willfully making up news stories simply to stir up trouble. There are stories created that are simply incorrect, that's human error. But fake news is intentional, a real blight for those journalists who take their job and their objectivity seriously. Sadly, it's out there.
I've been a journalist for my entire 35-year working career, in radio and televsion but also in print, and now for the last 17+ years as a yearbook representative. A yearbook is a journalistic product, one designed to last a lifetime which makes it even more important. Decades from now people will read old yearbooks to find out what happened at a school at that time. It's crucial that we give those readers (not just the ones today) a full story of the people at the school, who they were, and what happened that year. It's THAT important.
That's leads to this week - Scholastic Journalism Week. The Journalism Education Association (JEA,) of which I am a member, takes their job of teaching and leading student journalists very seriously. I hope you do as well as part of your yearbooking duties.
Looking for some ideas to help promote this special week and the special work your students are doing? Click here to jump to the JEA webpage devoted to Scholastic Journalism Week. Scroll down to check out a long list of ideas you can utilize.
And above all, make sure your administrators and fellow teachers know what your group is doing. It's sad that many student journalism staffs, yearbook or newspaper or broadcast, often end up at the short end of the stick compared to other subjects at school. Yes, English and science and math are obviously important, but so is good student journalism. Kids learn so much from a well run journalism effort, skiils they will then use in other classes and in college and then later in life.
Teaching teens the values of student journalism has never been more important than at this exact moment in time. They need to know that political bias has no room in real journalism. But they also need to learn the value of constant skepticism, always asking questions and learning new things. Never take anything at face value, no matter the source - instead do some digging and confirm the truth. Just because the President of the United States says something doesn't automatically make it so.
So make an effort this week. First, celebrate Scholastic Journalism Week with your students, make it a big deal. Let them know how important GOOD journalism really is in our free society. And then renew your efforts to teach your students the values of good journalism.
And if you're really interested, join JEA. Their website is loaded with great material for your classroom use. You can be a part of their national email list which features some interesting discussions of the hot journalism topics of the day. Annual membership is affordable - all the information is available on their website, www.jea.org.
It's never been more important than right now. Our students - and our future - depend on it.