Building relationships with future news consumers

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a high school journalism adviser and educator. I love journalism, and I love to help my students do great journalism. I am always looking for a new project for my student to tackle. Sure, they are plenty busy producing a monthly magazine, the yearbook, and a news website. However, I want to be able to give them all the opportunities I possibly can. I want them to understand that though our goal is to produce quality journalism, the process of doing so is so much more important than anything else.

So when I came across what Scott Winter was doing with his journalism class at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., I was instantly inspired.

According to a report from Bethel University Office of Communications and Marketing, he sent his students out to elementary schools in a district where 93 percent qualified for free and reduced price lunch during the last school year and the student body is racially diverse to help the students produce journalism. According to the article:

Bethel students would help the fourth- and fifth-graders create a school newspaper in return for design content and hands-on experience.

Winter’s students planned lessons to teach the elementary students about interviewing, writing, and photography. Then college students designed and printed the newspaper, which was filled with content produce by the elementary school students.

How cool is this!?

Of course, the idea came to Winter after he felt compelled to get his students off campus and into the surrounding community after racially charged incidents took place nearby. Winter said:

I felt like we shouldn’t just talk about things—we should do something.

I love that mentality. My community doesn’t have any racial issues it is facing, but there are poor and less fortunate students in the district. These students probably feel marginalized in their own way, and they may feel like their stories don’t matter because they don’t matter. A project like this could give those types of students a great sense of self worth.

Furthermore, it could be a great opportunity for my journalism students to share journalism with a younger generation and inspire the youth of our community to pursue journalism, or at least consume journalism as they get older. In the current political climate with President Trump continually attacking journalists and the work they do, creating a positive relationship between journalism and the future news consumers seems like a pretty good idea to me.

I’m going to start crafting a plan to do something like this right away. In a high school setting I don’t have as much leeway as Winter does in a college setting, but I am confident I can make something happen. It is going to be a ton of fun! I can’t wait to get started!