Journalism education is dying--here's why it matters

News & Politics

In a country with freedom of the press, it is astonishing to see how few teenagers are passionate about journalism—whether it be in audio, broadcast, or written media. 

As a teenager who enjoys writing and reading journalism, I am often met with puzzled stares or blank faces when I mention it is my favorite form of writing. For years, I blamed this lack of appreciation for journalism on my peers themselves, but United States schools are also accountable as journalism education isn’t emphasized in the majority of secondary education institutions. 

Less than two-thirds of public high schools offered the opportunity to write for a school newspaper, as stated in a 2011 study by the Kent State Center for Scholastic Journalism. The discrepancy also lies within funding and interest in journalism opportunities in school—while some schools may have the newest, state-of-the-art technology in media centers, others may be underfunded and rely on a singular committed teacher to keep going. 

Investing in journalism education provides a myriad of benefits for schools themselves. The Newspaper Association of America found that high school journalism students perform better on standardized tests, obtain higher GPAs, and earn higher grades in their first semester of college than their classmates. Journalism also serves as an outlet to combine skills such as writing, reporting, and communication in the real world and report on a subject area students are interested in.

Student journalism allows students the opportunity to have their voices heard and uplifted in the media. At the current point in time, most political power is held by elder Americans. The average age of members of the Senate and House of Representatives is 62.9 years and 57.6 years, respectively. Furthermore, President Joe Biden is the oldest president in United States history at 81 years old. Unfortunately, voter turnout for younger Americans is about 25% lower than for older Americans. Increasing the representation of student journalists in the media by increasing access to journalism education can heighten young Americans’ political efficacy and give them a sense of validity in spaces where they have been ignored. 

At the end of the day, journalism is most beneficial when it is accurate and encompasses the varying perspectives in the world. Stories concerning young people still aren’t brought to the forefront as much as they should be. For instance, teenagers who experienced shootings such as the Parkland shooting in 2018, have a valuable experience to share with the world and can report on the issue of gun laws to make viable change. That opportunity shouldn’t be taken away from teens by writers who cannot fully represent their unique experiences. 

The benefits of journalism apply to a scope outside the classroom. It encourages students to think and develop opinions about current events, care about what is going on in the world around them, and teaches them that they have the power to make a true difference in the world.

The power of a teenager should never be underestimated, especially not in the world of journalism.