Students: Push the Envelope NOW
What are you waiting for?
You. The broadcast journalist sitting in your cozy classroom, planning your next story.
Right now you are thinking about topics we will just call the “usual suspects.” You know, the big game, the dance, the kid with the Star Wars collection, or the awesome teacher with the heart of gold just down the hall. You are going through your inner rolodex, looking for your next story.
You even thought of telling us how bad it is to party on prom night. Because that hasn’t been covered since last year, or the year before. Or was the subject of one of those PSA contests everyone enters.
Stop. Thinking. Safe.
We need daring in scholastic journalism. We need you to make people squirm. We need you to ask the question. You know, the question you are certain the person you are interviewing does NOT want you to ask.
If you attend an upscale, suburban school where everyone has straight teeth and a country club membership, tell me a story that needs to be told about prescription drugs being passed around like candy, about kids ringing up huge credit card debt, about the kids in the corner who might not fit in with the rest of the student body.
If your school is more focused on football, basketball, soccer and every other sport instead of on academics, tell me about the D-I gonna-be who hasn't done his own homework since forever, or the third year coach who makes more money than the 25th-year science teacher, or the funds spent on the new turf while the library or auditorium crumbles. Suits love it when you talk about the district’s money.
If you see or hear disrespectful treatment of those less fortunate, or those who can not fight for themselves, stand up and give a voice to the voiceless. Use that digital camera for something other than the piece about favorite holiday songs, or kids and their pets.
Dare to cover the yucky stuff. The wrongs going on around you. The double standards. The insensitivity. The nonsense. Do not waste these few years you are on a broadcast team with your friends, with this golden opportunity to examine issues, and yes, to just rock the boat now and then.
Teachers: Let them.
Let the kids push, no, torch the envelope. Get out of the way. Do not fight their battles for them once they engage. But do not censor your young journalists before they have a chance to show you the great stories they can do. And yes, ask them the tough questions, hold them accountable. Challenge them.
Most of all, be an inspiration to them. Be that teacher that inspired you to be a teacher.