What’s the impact of student journalism?

Professional journalists can do impactful stories, uncovering corruption, exposing threats to citizen safety. But so do student journalists; their work also has effected major change in their communities.

Student assignments at three levels:

Flashlight: Explore the past winners of the Courage in Student Journalism award and the National Scholastic Press Association’s Story of the Year award. Consider the stories about the failing schools and teen pregnancies,  local sex-trafficking and an increase in local gang activity. Come to class ready to discuss: Do you see those types of stories in your school media? Why or why not?

Spotlight: Explore past winners of the College Press Freedom Award and the Associated Collegiate Press Story of the Year award. There, you can find stories about how a college’s board of trustees might be in violation of state open meetings laws, a sorority removed from campus after reports of hazing and questionable spending by a campus student government. Find a similar story in student media on your campus. Come to class prepared to dissect the story. What was the reaction to it?

Searchlight: Browse the above links. Brainstorm story ideas. Have the class nominate the top three stories. Using a simple SMS voting site like Poll Everywhere, send out the nominees through your social networks and let people vote on their top story. Back in class, map out that story, including sources, questions, etc. Here’s a Seattle Times tip sheet to help map the story. For extra credit, do the story as a class project.