For those struggling to succeed,
don’t give up
By Kathy Schrier, MJE
Scholastic Journalism Week is here, and again we acknowledge and celebrate the important role of the student media in our schools.
We know of great schools boasting excellent journalism programs where student reporters are allowed to shine and are applauded in their school communities. Even if they are challenging authority or shining light on difficult issues, they do so with a clarity of purpose, and they command respect. We regularly hear these school names again and again in convention awards ceremonies.
Then there are schools where journalism programs struggle to survive; where there aren’t adequate resources; where there is administrative control over content. The door to the adviser’s office is revolving, and new faces come and go with alarming frequency. Students in such programs rarely attend state or national conferences. How does an adviser build clarity of purpose, while barely hanging on?
I say to advisers in these schools: Please don’t give up. Please know that your job is very important. Focus on ethical journalism and stress the importance of truth telling. Remind students that they are real journalists, and have much more power than they may think they have. Encourage them to ditch the horoscopes and to drop some real news into that space. Challenge them to find the stories of their school community and to tell them. They can become more credible, not just to their readers, but to themselves.
Struggling programs can be turned around, and JEA provides links to a long list of professional development opportunities and valuable resources. One is here at the Scholastic Press Rights Commission, where we work to educate students and their advisers of the rights and responsibilities they have been charged to uphold.
Scholastic Journalism Week provides an opportunity for strong programs to reaffirm their commitment to serve their school communities; and for struggling programs to find the inspiration and commitment to grow.