Robust scholastic journalism programs don’t just help train journalists. They also help develop the next generation of engaged citizens and informed leaders.
Few subject areas are as naturally well suited as journalism to prepare youth for the modern workforce and to be tomorrow’s leaders. Journalism classes emphasize the practical application of writing, development of strong research skills, real-world use of technology and encouragement of civic engagement.
Meeting high standards
The core skills of journalism closely align with the aimed outcomes of state and national efforts to improve education. The Common Core State Standards Initiative, of which Michigan is a member, offers this profile of students who are “College and Career Ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Language:”
- They demonstrate independence.
- They build strong content knowledge.
- They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.
- They comprehend as well as critique.
- They value evidence.
- They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.
- They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.
- Journalism is uniquely suited to help students develop each of these skills, which are ingrained in the experience of producing student-led media.
The National Council of Teachers of English long has supported the inclusion of robust journalism programs in English curriculums.
Raising academic performance
There also is a growing body of evidence supporting academic value of scholastic journalism. A national study, “Why Journalism Matters” by Indiana University Professor Jack Dvorak, found that students who work on high school newspapers and yearbooks:
- get better grades in high school;
- earn higher scores on the ACT;
- achieve better grades as college freshman.
Preparing young citizens
A growing number of organizations conclude that students need more hands-on participation in civic activities.
Journalism meets this need for student. In addition to the practical application of writing and visuals, development of strong research skills and real-world use of technology, journalism classes encourage of civic engagement. This includes knowing how to seek credible information and how to make positive change in a community. Students learn about social responsibility, the importance of education and how to produce news and information that is accurate, fair and responsible.
This kind of hands-on participation early in life plays an important role in motivating young people to be engaged citizens as adults. A study by the University of Kansas found that students who are in a supportive environment as student journalists feel a greater sense of civic efficacy.
“Journalism is about civics in action,” said research team leader Peter Bobkowski, a professor at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas.” It’s about, how do you make things happen? How do you take issues and address them in your communities? How do you make people care about issues? I think it’s so much richer than something like an exam.”
6 ways you can support scholastic journalism in your community
- Share information about the value of scholastic journalism with your local school leaders. Here’s a handout
- Volunteer with your local middle or high school journalism, yearbook or broadcast program.
- Sponsor a local program’s annual MIPA membership.
- Make a donation to support a young journalist’s participation in the MIPA Summer Journalism Workshop, a five-day residential summer program at Michigan State University.
- Be a speaker to share your experiences and knowledge at the MIPA Fall Conference in October!
- Make a donation to MIPA to support our programs to train teachers and support student journalists