Tuesday, February 08, 2005

HS Journalism: a threat?

When I was reading Mr. Shaw's column, I had flashbacks to my own high school journalism experiences. Though I was never threatened with replacement or displacement from my position as editor-in-chief, as a newspaper we definitely had our share of controversy.
When I became editor-in-chief of our newspaper, The Pitchfork, my senior year, a new principal was hired. I had to meet with him over the summer to get to know him and his policies. To my dismay, one of the first things he told me was that he was for prior review and had disliked some things we had run in the past. Although our paper never shied away from covering controversial issues, we had never reported or uncovered earth shattering news. I had been taught by my passionate and persistent adviser, Kim Stokes, that one should never EVER be censored or prior reviewed. So I decided to fight the principal on his prior review policy. Needless to say, we were never prior reviewed that year, and I eventually became the principal's assistant. Although he was unhappy with some of my decisions to run stories on a teen mother in our school and unnecessary breathalizer tests at the prom, we openly communicated with each other, and we still share a mutual respect for one another.
Because Julia and I are from the same high school, worked on the same newspaper staff and shared the same experiences with censorship, my opinion on the article is the same as hers. Julia and I had an amazing adviser in high school who always fought for our rights as journalists and taught us about the rights we had. If we had been without Mrs. Stokes, I would never have had the courage or knowledge to go against our principal and fight for an uncensored and a true student newspaper. I am disturbed by the trend of "self-taught" journalism teachers, although some are perfectly capable of handling student publications. However, I am probably more disturbed by funding being cut for school programs including journalism. In high school, journalism offered me a way to express myself through writing and designing and also afforded me the means of changing certain aspects of the school.
Journalism was my high school experience not merely a part, and I only wish more students could have the opportunities I had in high school with journalism.

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