Global student activism encourages teens to speak out
News organizations are taking action against student voice restrictions with days like News Engagement Day, Oct. 1. The annual event “encourages engagement with news and promotes understanding about the principles and processes of journalism in a democratic society.”
As students across the globe involve themselves in gun control, climate change, racial equality and various other social issues, their voices are often trivialized, mocked or silenced.
Yet through media censorship and cases like Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988), school officials in 36 states reserve the right to deny the publication of certain newspaper articles.
Students are encouraged to tweet messages, watch videos and read articles to support student journalism and promote the freedoms of the First Amendment and issues which impact students.
News Engagement Day (NED) began as an initiative of Paula Poindexter, the 2013-2014 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) president in 2014. An advocate for news engagement, Poindexter created the annual day to halt the public’s decreasing awareness of news, scarcity of knowledge about journalism and shrinking confidence in the media.
As Poindexter affirms in her initiative for NED, unless we take action to encourage the public to engage with news, news consumption will continue its downward slide, which is harmful for the news media, democracy and the public good.
NED grew from an annual event in journalism programs to a worldwide event where people across the globe are encouraged to recognize the importance of the first amendment. The day is placed at the beginning of October each year to raise media awareness and education before November elections.
In the following podcast, Fresno State’s Tatarian Journalism Chair, Tim Drachlis, shares his views on student voice in the media, Sept. 30.
One of the purposes behind NED is to fight against fake news. As high school and college students face false reporting, Fresno State’s Tatarian Journalism Chair, Timothy Drachlis, promotes the active search for all sides of a story.
“In journalism, our goal is to get to the truth of the matter,” Drachlis said. “When we talk to one person were getting that perspective, were not necessarily getting the truth. So when we talk to lots of different people, we are beginning to coalesce around where truth may lie, and then we can intelligently write where things come together and that’s where the truth lies.”
In recent news, 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took a stand at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 after being invited to speak, Sept. 23. While at the podium, she denounced the inaction of world leaders on the topic of climate change. As Thunberg rallies millions to her cause for environmental activism, students around the world are inspired to use their voices to bring about change.
In the following tweet, the Society of Professional Journalists explains the first step to reconstructing media trust.
— Society of Professional Journalists (@spj_tweets) October 3, 2017
As a journalist and supporter of media credibility, Drachlis applauds students for speaking out on world issues. He addresses Thunberg’s message and its impact on climate change.
“Students are the future so absolutely students should have a voice,” Drachlis said. “I think that journalism and news engagement is very important and it’s nice that Greta has this voice that so eloquently addresses this issue before our very eyes.”
While Drachlis commends young people for taking action, he dedicates himself to unbiased reporting and shares his opinion on the role of students in media.
“At the same time,” Drachlis continued, “it’s important for students to understand that they have to get all sides and they have to be neutral. Greta has a point of view and that’s wonderful, but when it comes to journalism we need to get both sides. We aren’t really in a position as an industry where we can speak out against things or for things; we are going to tell people what people are saying.”
The following tweet from Radio Television Digital News Association instructs journalists on how to better understand and serve their audience.
Journalists seeking to engage their audiences – their younger, increasingly diverse audiences – face a tough challenge this #NewsEngagementDay (and every day). Our engagement insights: https://t.co/pWTVoYnzXU
— RTDNA (@RTDNA) October 1, 2019
The Feather staff utilizes News Engagement Day to promote the freedoms of the First Amendment and challenge ideas of insecurity or self-doubt in the school. Through lunchtime activities and flyers that cover the halls, the Feather staff implores the student body to acknowledge the importance of their voice.
“I do think think news is important to an extent,” Obwald said. “As far as our government, I think it is crucial to know what is going on, but I don’t think it is helpful or useful in anyway to have commentators. People should draw their own conclusions about things.
“I think news is a good resource for knowing and being informed about things happening outside of where you live,” Obwald continued. “Although I don’t watch the news, it makes me kind of sad. So I have mixed emotions about the subject. I don’t know much about it or watch it.”
News organizations like the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), AEJMC, and Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) all fight the issue of censorship and news ignorance through legal actions and the spreading of First Amendment rights on social media.
In the following tweet, editors-in-chief Addison Schultz and Vijay Stephen share how to engage during News Engagement Day.
New Feather editor-in-chiefs Addison Schultz and Vijay Stephen share the importance of engaging with news and ways to get involved with @thefeather. Check out https://t.co/N8BCmuGbRO later today for an article highlighting @newsengagement. @SchultzAddison @vijays3242 @AEJMC pic.twitter.com/58EXsz7Msg
— The Feather Online (@thefeather) October 1, 2019
Senior and three-year Feather staffer Logan Lewis believes in the power of news to inform and educate the students of today. He encourages fellow journalists to stand firm in the face of rebuke.
“Let’s not out-yell the person we’re arguing against; that won’t lead to any sort of compromise,” Lewis said. “If we want to progress, we must listen. Let’s get along with one another regardless of sex, color, religion, or political affiliation.”
Lewis recognizes the often negative sides to news and reporting. But as he continues to tell the stories of his community, he seeks out positive headlines.
“The news can make the world seem like a dark and grim place,” Lewis continued. “Don’t be discouraged! Good things are always there; seek the good things, and live out more positive headlines.”
The following video features The Feather editors wishing the campus, community and country a happy News Engagement Day, Oct. 1.
Student voice matters. Despite the opposition and censorship inflicted on student voice in the media, young people have a responsibility to address the issues facing their world today.
We are your voice! Where do you get your news? Share your support of News Engagement Day or the importance of student voice by commenting on articles and liking or commenting on The Feather Online’s Instagram and Twitter posts using #newsengagementday. If you have an idea for an article or an interest in writing a column, send it to The Feather via email.
For another article on student voice, check out EDITORIAL: Students impact public discussion, face attacks. or last year’s NED article, News Engagement Day recognizes the importance of news involvement. For another article, read Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens to public, receives mixed reviews.@thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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