The importance of student journalism

By Isabelle Beezley, Editor-in-Chief

the charger

 After years of publishing The Charger, the newspaper class will no longer be offered at Carroll.

   Confidence. Attention to detail. A dedication to the truth. An investigative eye. A moving pen.

   These are the qualities that separate a student journalist from a timid, red-headed freshman.

   Journalism is far more than simple fact reporting. Journalists act as informants, watchdogs, and storytellers. They tell the stories people want to hear and, more often, the stories they don’t. Journalists operate within a strict code of ethics that every writer must follow for fear of repercussions ranging from demoralization to jail time. They are taught to write truthfully and tactfully, without bias or libel; to do otherwise would be to taint the title of “journalist”. Journalists are the common man’s connection to the   world outside his window. In short, journalists are important because they influence the way we see the world.

   Being a journalist comes with a sense of responsibility to provide the truth to your readers. And it is exactly this responsibility that makes it so important for students to be involved in a journalism class like Radio and Television 1: Converged Newsroom (Newspaper). Being a student journalist has similar qualities to being a professional journalist: you write unbiased articles, conduct interviews, and take photographs. You still have the same duty to uphold the ethics of journalism.

   Journalism students learn unquantifiable skills in their time on a newspaper staff. They must learn social skills to interview the subjects of their stories. They develop their prose style through constant writing. They fine-tune their English grammar skills in the editing phase. They learn photography skills, how to work within a deadline, as well as how to collaborate with others towards a common goal.

   As a freshman, I avoided talking to teachers as often as I could. I came to school and I went home with no desire to involve myself any further. Then, I took a journalism class. I learned about the importance of journalism to society. I couldn’t believe how much influence journalists had over my everyday life; they determined what I saw and how I saw it, every day of the year. I was fascinated. In my mind, journalism transformed from a job, which I gave little thought to, to one of the most important careers in modern society. I gained a new respect for the value of journalism in a democratic society. If information is freedom, journalists hold the key to liberty. So when I was asked to write for the student newspaper, I jumped at the chance.

   Over the course of the next three and a half years I was given opportunities I would have never been afforded otherwise: I won two Scholastic Gold Key awards for journalism, I was nominated to represent Carroll High School in a journalism scholarship competition from the News Sentinel, and I had my work published in a local paper. Not to mention all the fun aspects of being part of the student press: I walked on the roof of the school, made long-lasting friendships with my classmates, and met new and exciting people I never would have known about otherwise. Newspaper class even helped me overcome a life-long anxiety of talking to authority figures, as I had to interview teachers and administrators constantly for my articles. Soon the business became second nature.

   For all that Newspaper did for me, I only wish there was something I could do for it.

   I was informed earlier this year that the Newspaper class—Radio and Television 1: Converged Newsroom—will not be meeting as a class next year at Carroll, although it may be offered in future years.

   As I type out my last article ever for The Charger, I can’t help but feel a little melancholy. The paper I so dearly loved these last four years is being shut down due to lack of interest, which I attribute to a lack of funding. We are a mostly online paper, which makes spreading the word difficult. There is only one print edition per year of The Charger, so most of our recruits are attracted to the class by word of mouth.

   But I cannot in good conscience let the newspaper die without a fight.

   Newspapers may seem old fashioned, but the values they stand for are not. Even in a school setting, journalistic integrity is a valuable lesson for all writers. Newspaper to me is more than a class, it represents reliability and responsibility. It made me feel important in a mass of students. It gave me an outlet through which my writing flourished. And most of all, it made me feel as though I had a voice, that I had some sliver of influence as a journalist beyond that of Isabelle, the freshman girl with a writing habit.

   By whatever means possible, journalism must survive at Carroll. To not support journalism would be an injustice to Carroll students, like me. I found my niche here only because I was given the opportunity. To deny that opportunity to future students would be to snuff out the talent of future journalists, leaving their skills to lie dormant and undeveloped forever.

   Journalism saved me from a dull, fruitless high school career. Now it’s time to save journalism.