Update:WOOT! In less than 12 hours, you guys, you did it! Two schools’ journalism work is now fully funded because of you! You guys are awesome.
Be sure to check the comments for a thank-you note from one of the teachers, and when we get info from Donors Choose we’ll post that up too!
So what do we do about it? Seriously–is there anything we can do in terms of activism that would help turn this fucked up ship around? Because I’d really like to leave a better world for my nieces and nephews, and it seems to me that fixing *this* would do more to accomplish that than anything else.
Call me naive, but I’m willing to give it a go if somebody has an idea.
I have an idea.
There’s only one way you make newspapers better, the news better, journalism better, and that’s by making the people who do it better. And you do that by training them better, by educating them better, by teaching them from day one that their job is to tell the truth and let people make their own decisions, by teaching them there’s no question that can’t be asked, by teaching them the rewards of fearlessness every day from the moment they can put a pen to paper until the moment they put the pen down and die.
Nobody’s born a name-taking truth teller, the building blocks may be there but until those tendencies are nurtured by teachers and colleagues and that love is reinforced every day through concrete example of what can happen when you use the voice you possess, until then you’re not hooked. Once hooked into the idea that that’s what you want to be, though, and I say this from experience, once hooked you are what you are for life.
How, to extend Buggy’s metaphor, do we turn this ship around? How do we repair an entire industry seemingly bent on smashing itself on the rocks just out of spite? By making sure the next person who takes the wheel knows how to navigate the water. By recognizing that despite the protestations of the death of journalism for the last 20 years, journalism isn’t dying and it isn’t dead and tomorrow and the next day we’re gonna need people who wake up in the morning positively drooling to root out wrongs and demand they be made right.
To that end, let’s put our money where our pixels are. Let’s do something real to influence the future of journalism in this country. Let’s be where the rest of the media critics are not and, while they’re off flapping their gums about Google and talking about iPhones, make better journalists.
Starting withthis school:
“Newspapers everywhere are suffering, but journalism – the important act of informing, inspiring discussion, and keeping power in check – is far from dead. In fact, students everywhere are consuming more media than ever before.
The empowered student editors at this rural high school believe that LOCAL-LEVEL reporting and commentary is the key to journalism’s future. Readers crave information today. And while there are countless forums for national-level entertainment, news, sports, and the like, the community-level offerings of a high school paper are usually lackluster.
Our dedicated students have sought to change that. In less than a year, they’ve overhauled the student newspaper’s writing and reporting. In its effective writing and reporting, it is on-par with a college or even small town newspaper. However, we remain bound by our tax base, and there’s simply no money to get the type of photo equipment we need to be taken seriously by a media-inundated, instant-gratification generation. It’s hard to get the average reader to read an outstanding story on the girls’ basketball team when there is a wholly unimpressive photo to draw the reader into the story.
My students need a DSLR digital camera because this is the only type of camera that can capture photos rapidly – as you need to do for everything from a football game to a principal getting a pie in the face for charity. Without effective photojournalism, the hard work of our student editors will be ignored. But with the high-quality photos this equipment can provide, these students can receive the full benefit of writing for an engaged audience.
With the state education budget cuts, my annual journalism budget was reduced from $5,000 to ZERO! We have responded to this challenge by selling food and advising, plus have credit at the printer. With this proposal, we plan to produce 18-minute documentary-style broadcast journalism stories to be shown on campus TV program produced by video production class (and Pod cast on school website) and use media skills to complete a 30-minute documentary on boys’ baseball and girls’ softball seasons to sell to students/parents to continue funding school newspaper (since there are limitation on when we can sell food on campus; basically, one week every two months).
Donors Choose (hat tip:Tomato Nation) is a site that lets teachers propose projects for their classrooms; a surprising number involve student journalism. Let’s adopt these two projects, as a blog, and let’s make this happen. For less than $400 total, there’s a whole future of journalists taught by people who clearly value storytelling in order to make the world a better place.
I know the economy sucks; it’s the only reason the newspaper crisis conversation has been pushed to the forefront right now, and if you can’t give, I entirely understand. But if you can, and you care about the things I’ve been ranting about with regard to our screwed up media environment, help the people who will have to remake this industry learn how to do it right.
We can talk to the critics all we want about smarter criticism. If we want smarter journalists, this is how we get them. It’s the only way we can do things around here, the only way anything big ever gets done: One small project — a video setup, a digital camera — at a time.