Let Student Journalists Out of the Box

Enjoy this article by an ASB guest blogger, Michelle Turner:

It's common for broadcast advisers to swap email addresses, twitter handles, YouTube channels, and sometimes phone numbers. More often that not, we are the lone duck in our buildings. It's rare to have one, much less TWO, television teachers in the same high school. That is one of the reasons we often are found picking each other's brains at conventions or contests.

When asked, I tell fellow broadcast advisers to find my students' work at www.bluejayjournal.com. It is easy for me to remember, especially since I made sure we owned the domain long before we were given the approval to build a website (much to the dismay of a few Toronto Blue Jay fans who would like to own it).A few times last school year other broadcast advisers pressed me for video only links to my students' work. I found myself explaining that the Blue Jay Journal TV website has access to our videos, and more. It has student blogs, Humans of WHS, special feature pages, and behind the scenes articles from the staff about their stories and PSAs.

Once I found myself having to defend our website. I was asked, "You're not a school newspaper, so why do all this writing and proofreading?" 

It was as if this individual thought "video students" cannot or should not do more, which I actually find shocking. 

It's time to stop placing labels and limitations on students. I currently have a former student who is planning to major in Convergence Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism (Mizzou). She was on both the newspaper and broadcast staffs last year. She is becoming the face of what is expected from today's journalists. 

Why can't a yearbook staff make a promotional PSA or incorporate video into their books with QR codes that lead to YouTube links? 

Why can't a broadcast staff spread their wings and explore the written word, photography, and social media reporting to enhance their online packages? On that note, why can't they have true online packages instead of just a page with a video embedded on it? 

Newspapers (professional and student-led) have caught on quickly that their articles benefit not only from photographs, but from video as well. Our own local newspaper, www.emissourian.com, has worked to add more videos to their online publication. 

It's time to stop putting our students in a neatly packaged box with a label. The "real world" of journalism no longer fits into those boxes. If you have a broadcast program, do not be afraid to have your students blog or take photographs of events (odds are they are already there filming). If you have a print program, don't fear video. In the end, your students will only benefit from the experience.

Michelle Anne Turner teaches at Washington High School in Missouri and is the 2016 JEA Broadcast Adviser of the Year