Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A dying breed

This past weekend I worked my second Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA) Convention. I went to these conventions all the time in high school, and I realize now how much I missed out on while in high school.

There are a few speakers at the conventions that students love...it isn't becuase they have the greatest topics or the best presentations, they just stand out for some reason. I saw one speaker at least 10 times in high school and all he ever taught was column writing classes, and he used the same columns every time. I can probably quote every column by heart.

As I was doing my check of classes, I realized how foolish I was to go to the column class all the time. This year, we had a speaker with J-ideas that helped with the study of students and the First Amendment. No one showed up to his class until 20 minutes after it started and then they only came in because their choice class was full. It was an eye opening experience...even student journalists didn't want to go to a class specifically about them and their rights...and he even gave away free copies of the study and T-shirts.

His class was not the only class that had hardly any participants or no participants at all. And I thought students not going to class might be because we had failed in providing an adequate program, but I really know it is because some just don't care. Some students were still asleep in the wonderful beds at the Marriott, others were wandering around Columbia and then at least a handful just stood defiantly in the hall saying they weren't going to class.

During the awards banquet, students had a chance to say what news broadcasters were doing wrong...and basically all of the students said they were bored. Broadcasters talked in monotone, they didn't do enough in depth stories and they just didn't care to care to hear about issues that they believed did not affect them.

In the session I taught about what programs the J-school offered, students didn't even want to know what their future as college journalists held for them...of course they were more worried about the college life in Columbia. When I asked if there were any more questions, there was an exasperated "NO!" from the back. I was so thrilled about my panelists of students and that students actually attended the class, but that "No" killed me.

I am proud to say I am a part of SIPA and that I play some role in preparing journalists for the future and I am so proud of the work SIPA does for student journalists, but this weekend made me realize that true passionate journalists are really a dying breed. We can preach all day long about why journalism is so great and why these students should take advantage of these classes and free resources offered....but we can never make them care about journalism more than they want to .


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