Power to the Student Press

By Tyler Buller

Student reporters terrify adults, and I’ve never understood why.

It was a mystery when I was covering school board and city council meetings as the editor of my high school newspaper, and it’s been no less a mystery in recent years, when I served as an elected member of my alma mater’s school board.

Admittedly, good student journalism does have a tendency to “stir the pot” and cause controversy. But at the same time, student reporting can make adults in the community aware of situations, concerns, and perspectives that otherwise might never come to light.

Over the years, our district’s high school newspaper has reported some memorable stories. In 2003, the students wrote both news and editorial pieces on a parent’s attempt to remove Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from the freshman English curriculum. The next year, they reported on the unlawful distribution of campaign materials by an incumbent school board member and the subsequent write-in campaign to defeat him.

More recently, we’ve seen informative stories on topics such as underage drinking, depression, and substance abuse. The students were even the first to break the story when the board hired our current superintendent.

Our students have been recognized for their efforts. They have won national awards from the Journalism Education Association, Quill & Scroll, the National and Columbia Scholastic Press Associations, and even a state championship.

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