High school journalism should be taken more seriously

Our school’s history of award-winning journalism proves that there is more to the department than just the opportunity to receive credit

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Ciara Pemberton, JAG photo editor and student life editor

I came to the realization as I was sitting in the commons of the University of Kansas Student Union. I had posted a photo of my friends and I at the Kansas Scholastic Press Association’s state contest on my Snapchat story, and as people swiped up to ask what we were there for, it finally clicked: journalism students at our school don’t get the recognition they deserve.

While some students at our school may think that taking a beginner journalism class is an easy way to receive a technology credit, it can actually serve as the perfect opportunity to get involved in the school. Working on a publication requires a lot of effort, time and patience, but the benefits that can be reaped from being a part of something bigger than yourself help prepare students for the real world after high school.

Last year’s 5A state title was our seventh championship win in the past fifteen years, and as well as being one to watch in scholastic journalism in Kansas, Mill Valley’s newspaper, yearbook and online publications have consecutively placed in the top rankings at the national scale.

Among the award-winning past three years, the JagWire newspaper won NSPA (National Scholastic Press Association) Pacemakers in 2015 and 2016, was inducted into the NSPA All-America Hall of Fame in 2016 (as was the JAG yearbook in 2012), and all three publications have received All-American and All-Kansas ratings and NSPA convention Best of Show placings throughout the past decade.

It almost seems that students believe that because journalism isn’t a sport, student journalists don’t have to work as hard to be the best at what we do. The truth, in fact, is that we practice and perfect our skills just as student athletes do when they play their sport. Daily classes and weekly work nights make our work a priority. When it comes down to crunch time, the pressure to finalize stories, write captions and finish spreads can directly compare to the role of the buzzer-beater shot that could possibly win the game.

Furthermore, the year-round course motivates us to push to the end and receive our reward, whether that be a newspaper issue, yearbook or MVTV episode. Some may even argue the full-year class makes for a greater challenge than a sport lasting for only one season.

While it’s great to appreciate the success of school sports, it’s also important to recognize the hard work that occurs daily in the journalism room. The wealth of pep assemblies for state champions, banners hung in the gym and whole days awarded for a state team should be spread evenly to all organizations throughout the school.

It seems that now more than ever, the reliability of reporting for school events is at its highest. With news of the Shawnee Dispatch ceasing its publication, Mill Valley journalism will be at the center of attention as the community looks to student journalists to cover the school’s news.

Students and the community as a whole should appreciate the work of student journalists that cover the sports that are so well-recognized. Maybe one day we will have state championship pep assemblies for the writers and photogs of the school, as well.

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