Bell High School

Why my high school needs a journalism class

No journalism class will be offered at my high school next year. Last year, the journalism class was going to be cut. It was decided that it would stay, but it would be taught by a teacher that had not taught the subject before.

With no journalism class to produce stories, the school news site will probably go down and the administrators are not trying very hard to save it. I asked a staff member involved with setting the master schedule if any administrators had spoken to her about journalism remaining at the school in the upcoming year. She said, “Nope.”

My high school has had a difficult relationship with journalism. Before my journalism teacher reinstated the school newspaper, Bell High School went eight years without a school newspaper, a journalism class or a student journalism staff. This strained relationship has continued its uncertain path. Until very recently, the link on the school webpage leading to the school news site was incorrect and would direct people to a “free domain” page.

It is wrong that now, when our school should be producing students who understand where to find the truth, we are cancelling the one class that taught us how to do this.

Journalism taught me to care about the things happening around me and how to be proactive about it. If it hadn’t been for journalism, I do not think I would have been capable of thinking critically or making viable, important connections in the way I do now.

Before taking journalism, I did not care about politics or social issues and could not see how either affected me. Seeing the world through the eyes of a reporter during such a grim time — during the height of a campaign whose crux was attacks on “fake news” — made me realize that being informed makes a world of a difference.

More students need the opportunity to experience the same. My school campus is brimming with students whose identities are constantly being challenged, especially in this political climate. Bell High School is composed of Latino, muslim, immigrants and LGBTQ youth who deserve the chance to understand the importance their voices hold.

Our community often renders us voiceless; we have fallen victim to various local corruption schemes, the most notable being the Bell corruption scandal in which $5.5 million were funnelled into the pockets of city government officials, and the most recent being the Maywood corruption investigation, finding that the city held a $15 million debt.

In the past, the concerns of constituents were disregarded by city officials who were more concerned with keeping up appearances than addressing the tribulations that people in the community face. We need journalism now more than ever.

The apathy from Bell High School administrators is alarming. My older sibling once told me that high school is a formative period for people. It serves as the foundation for people’s skills and ideology. The complete absence of journalism from the high school curriculum means that my peers might never understand that good journalism is the heart of a healthy democracy, and we all deserve to live in a healthy democracy.

1 Comment

  • Reply Patricia Fels June 10, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Well-written opinion piece, Amy! I wish one of my OWN journalism students had written it. I just retired from 41 years of advising a high-school newspaper and am very worried about the fate of my own paper and high-school newspapers in general.

    Liked by 1 person

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