Universal Mentors Association

Giving Up on Student Journalism Means Giving Up on Student Voices


This essay, by Chantal de Macedo Eulenstein, age 16, from Ames High School in Ames, Iowa, is one of the Top 11 winners of The Learning Network’s 10th Annual Student Editorial Contest, for which we received 12,592 entries.

We are publishing the work of all the winners and runners-up over the next week, and you can find them here as they post.

Giving Up on Student Journalism Means Giving Up on Student Voices

I almost gave up on student journalism this year.

My high school newspaper’s funding to print had been cut from $3,500 to $0, online readership was at an all-time low, and our once 13-member staff had been cut to eight. Next year it could be as small as two. Sixty recruitment emails had yielded one response: “I’m good.”

The overlooked truth is that student journalism is the rare opportunity students have to find and share their voice. Public schools are a microcosm of the America we see today — nowhere else do all groups of American society come together under a single roof and purpose. Nowhere else do we have such a perfect opportunity to tell untold stories. At its heart, the loss of student journalism means a loss of storytellers, a loss of perspective and a loss of seeing America for what it really is. Across the country student journalism is suffering. Today, 73 percent of New York City high schools don’t have school newspapers. That needs to change.

Let’s face the facts — Gen Z is less inclined to read in the first place. At the moment, less than 20 percent of teens report reading a book, magazine or newspaper for daily pleasure, while more than 80 percent report using social media every day. But Gen Z cares about the news; from climate change to school shootings we have proven time and time again that we are listening. So why the apathy toward student journalism?

A part of the problem is that suppressive legislation and restrictive school action targets student newspapers and minimizes the idea that student journalism is the student voice. In August of last year, a Nebraska student newspaper was shut down after publishing two columns on L.G.B.T.Q. issues. This year my own newspaper told the stories of the students affected by the passage of Senate File 496 by our Iowa State Senate, which, if approved, would require teachers to inform parents of any change in student pronouns. From crafting features to covering walkouts, our newsroom of eight battled injustice.

Yet it is social media, not student journalism, that Gen Z sees today as the opportunity to share their voice. The problem is, no one can tell a story in 60 seconds — at least not a full one.

We deserve the opportunity to share our voices fully, without restriction. As student journalists, we deserve more. More funding, more education, more workshops, more attention.

So no, I’m not giving up. Two-member staff or not, next year I will be part of our school paper, where, as an editor, I will continue to ask the school board for funding. I will never stop fighting for the future of student journalism. For the future of storytelling.

Neither should you.

Works Cited

Akin, Katie. “Iowa Senate Passes Sprawling Schools Bill to Desex Libraries, ‘Put Parents Back in Charge.’” Des Moines Register, 23 March 2023.

Medina, Eduardo. “Nebraska School Shuts Down Student Newspaper After L.G.B.T.Q. Publication.” The New York Times, 30 Aug. 2022.

Sliwa, Jim. “Teens Today Spend More Time on Digital Media, Less Time Reading.” American Psychological Association, 20 Aug. 2018.

Zimmerman, Alex. “73% of NYC High Schools Don’t Have a Newspaper. Efforts Are Growing to Fill in the Gaps.” Chalkbeat New York, 23 Nov. 2022.


Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *