As an editor of the Taipei American School newspaper, I guiltily admit to getting the majority of my day-to-day news from my Facebook newsfeed, Tumblr, and my mother (she sends links to recent articles and dog videos to our family LINE group chat, both of which I am very grateful of receiving.)
It’s not that I don’t support “real journalism” (prestigious names come up here: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic), I just find it difficult to find the time and effort to read the news every single day. Last year, in a tangible effort to keep up with the goings-on outside my little bubble, I started subscribing to Time Magazine, but still (and again, guiltily!), more articles remained unread than read, especially as SAT and final exam season collided.
In this generation, everything is online. Articles are free. Tabloids often get more traffic than newspapers. Your average, relatable teen like me may prefer binge-watching tv shows to scrolling through CNN. And honestly, just like in the real world, there is no glamour or applause in the student journalism life. In fact, the newspaper we poured countless hours of sweat and tears into will probably be discarded as trash can liner for glass shards in the chemistry classroom. So we conclude: journalism is a dying field. High stress, long hours, low pay: who would want this job? And what is the point of participating in something in school that provides “no future” (thanks mom) and so little money?
You know what’s coming after my rhetorical questions…I love journalism and will be forever grateful I wandered into this world: a world where all other worlds merge; a world where I’ve learned that the world is bigger than the one inside my head. Here’s why student journalism matters—at least, to me.
Student journalism revolves around a few activities—brainstorms, interviews and research, writing, and layout–and they have shaped how I matured in high school. Brainstorming ideas has taught me to think faster and to be more aware of those around me. Interviews have taught me how to actively listen and honestly, how to conversate better. Writing has sparked me to love the English language and to stand up for what I believe in. Tight deadlines have taught me responsibility, and working with a staff has taught me leadership and collaboration. Long hours of layout (no matter how much food there is available, only the unspeakable satisfaction of holding the latest issue of The Blue & Gold will truly compensate for my eyes burning after staring into InDesign for nine hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings #justjournalismthings) have taught me persistence and dedication. Most importantly, participating in journalism has taught me to notice the stories and lives of those around me, and to truly care about both others and the issues in this world.
Through journalism, I’ve realized that growing up is exploring what truly interests you, whether it’s values, ideas, or fields of study. It’s learning enough about certain subjects to share it with others. It’s having the confidence to step into different territories, and knowing that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you own up to them. Also, journalism is just plain fun! The community we’ve fostered has given me some of my best memories in high school (shout out to the cutest/best staff! I love you guys.)
So for those of you still in high school, or are looking for future activities to participate in as you venture off to college, I strongly encourage you to consider journalism. I am proud to say that this extracurricular has changed me from a shy, nervous freshman who brought sweaty hands and scripted questions to her first interview into someone who takes initiative, is eager to write and speak with others, and isn’t afraid to face the unknown. Who knows what it could do for you?
Journalism is not dying; it’s changing. The digitization of news means more people will have access to what you write. Paid online subscriptions, news apps, and an emerging platform of videos and documentaries are just the beginning. And in this age where important issues are still not being covered, it’s your chance to speak up and be part of a change. Now, who wouldn’t want this job?
tldr because who reads the news hahahah (just kidding): I love journalism, and you should too. 🙂