The Student News Site of Taipei American School




SJW Spotlight: Jocelyn Chen, Managing Editor (Online)


“Journalism is dying.” This is the impression I had of the profession at the start of my senior year as an editor on the school newspaper. This was hardly a personal opinion—rather I distinctly remember learning this in, funnily enough, Journalism class.

In previous years, we learned firsthand about the neverending hardships of traveling all over the world to capture hard-hitting stories from visiting journalists who worked for big papers and networks like The New York Times and CNN. Early this school year, we watched a series of videos in class that discussed the rise of social media and its result in a declining demand for traditional journalism. It certainly seems true to some extent; in terms of delivering news, traditionally trained journalists with recorders, pens, and notebooks in hand are being replaced by anyone with a Twitter account who can tweet immediately at the scene of a breaking news event. I also learned that the pay for journalists because of this was unstable. I was saddened by this realization, that perhaps journalism could soon in my lifetime vanish before my eyes.

On a media tour at the JEA Fall Journalism Convention, I visited the Orlando Sentinel (They called themselves “the Chicago Tribune of Florida.”) and sat in a room full of reporters who were answering questions from student journalists like me. I talked to one of the reporters about the invasion of the Internet and its influence on journalistic credibility—that is, it making it harder for journalists to succeed. However, she told me: “Journalism will always be important. News will always be there, and people will always need reliable sources to cover that news.”

She and the whole visit to the news station reminded me of all the things I have learned through my three years of journalism. It’s easy to snap a photo of an event and post it onto Facebook with a quick caption explanation. Sure, it delivers the news. There is, of course, the more in-depth way to cover the same event that requires skill and pursuit—researching the event (the backstory, the relevance, its current impact, statistical context), interviewing those involved and finding out what really happened, and giving an accurate picture of how it might influence future events. I realized that the platform for journalism is ever-changing as it does in correspondence to continually advancing technology, but the real, the raw journalism never changes.  

I initially joined Journalism class because I enjoyed writing and I wanted to explore it beyond 9th grade English class. To me now, this is a funny thought because I’ve grown as a writer because of journalism, but mostly from everything about it but the actual writing process itself.

I see the world through a more complex and knowledgeable lens, as writing for an international school audience means having to connect world events with local, American, and international communities. I’ve gained insight to controversial topics that are thought-provoking to not just myself as a writer but my readers (articles such as minorities in the media, academic cheating, cyber-bullying culture, etc.). And honestly, I’ve just learned a lot—about things in general. By being assigned news stories that I wouldn’t otherwise have much interest in (or maybe I do have interest in but don’t know about), I’ve had to research topics like microfinance, the Zika virus, computer programming, running marathons, and even one about a phone app that simulates being your boyfriend/girlfriend (I know.).

Aside from the articles, I have added a bunch of artsy tools under my toolbelt. Laying out the paper every issue is not only fun and stressful, but it is also useful in learning about aesthetics and professional design. For the sake of increasing viewership for our paper, I unexpectedly got into video-making for a while. Granted, I was not fantastic at it when I first started out, but it was a passion of mine I didn’t know about and one that takes a great deal of skill and artistic vision. I even learned valuable tips about social media and website-running to support our enlarging online presence and paper.

Student journalism is important because it combines a plethora of skills that are crucial to building quality assets for a student while engaging the student in a world that extends beyond his or her own comfort zone. There is no better way to effectively write on stories that matter and interact directly with a community to speak to others, some of who might also share similar or contrasting thoughts but just don’t have the platform like journalists do to express those thoughts.

Articles spark discussion, and they say the words that may not otherwise be said. As they are versatile, a funny article or a feature on something silly could also simply make someone laugh or view something differently. They’re all around us and they’re about everything and anything.

So, no. Journalism is not dead nor is it dying—and I’m glad.

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