By Clara Watson
Journalism has been an amazing opportunity during such a difficult year. It has taught me countless skills that I can utilize throughout my life. One that stands out to me is the communication aspect journalism offers. For the first time ever I emailed a publicist, had to do research on different directors and films, and propose an interview criteria to the publicist. I had the opportunity to work with directors on articles, schedule meeting times, and maintain contact all throughout my writing process. The interview itself helped teach me how to conduct a well thought out and impactful conversation and ask thought-provoking and memorable questions. These are such versatile and important skills to start learning and practicing at a young age. Nearly every day in life to secure a bright future, you need to perform well at job interviews, maintain and create connections with industry professionals, and learn how to interact and respectfully converse with people much higher up than you. I simply can not think of a more practical life skill to have.
Journalism has also taught me how to have an efficient and practical work ethic. Since there wasn’t a lot of designated meeting time for journalism, I had to coordinate with Ms. Neimroozi to schedule times that worked for the both of us. We constantly checked in through email and maintained connection through a pandemic. Sadly journalism was not a class this year, so all the writing I did for my pieces had to be done outside of class. This taught me how to have good time management skills and allot homework time for writing. I made my own deadlines and followed through accordingly.
I spent over 20 hours working on the make|SHIFT article alone. This work included viewing the movie and taking detailed notes, emailing back and forth with the director and his team, researching the director, writing questions for the interview, writing the article itself and meeting with Ms. Neimroozi and Mr. Shelton throughout the whole process. Being able to manage a heavier workload and schedule work time based on your own ability and pace, is a vital skill that will only become more useful in high school, college and beyond. During a pandemic year, with only two people, journalism was able to publish numerous articles to the Condor Press and have full-length interviews with four directors through the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Imagine all we could accomplish with a full class of people and an hour every single day!
The most obvious reason journalism is such a valuable and useful skill is the actual writing portion. This year has challenged me greatly as a writer. I have learned how to write interview articles, improve my grammar skills, weave a narrative throughout my writing and figure out how to insert my own voice in my pieces. I have grown so much this year. Think of how much those skills will be utilized in my future education.
I would also like to take the time to explain why only offering journalism for one semester out of the year, is not a suitable solution for reviving journalism again. One of the most special and remarkable things about journalism is the opportunity to interview different filmmakers and directors at the SBIFF. It is a goal we work towards all year, and something that will stick with students for life. Stripping half the students of that opportunity would be heartbreaking. Writing takes time and growth and looking back on myself at the very start of the year, I wasn’t ready at all to take on that responsibility. Students in the second semester would only have less than a month of experience before interviewing, compared to the six months students in the past have gotten being in a full year program.
Secondly, the yearbook is a project mainly worked on at the end of the year. Even though students beforehand might take pictures or do a little editing, the main percentage of the work is done in April and May. Meaning once again, students in the second semester will be tasked with huge projects, and not have the experience and skills needed developed yet. This also means students in the first semester don’t have the opportunity to be involved in the two best parts of SBJH’s incredibly unique journalism program
Do you see what I’m getting at here? Students in the first semester won’t have all the payoffs and big projects that are present in the second, while students in the second semester will have all this responsibility thrust upon them, without the needed prep and practice.
Finally, why choose to offer journalism only half the year if at all? If you are already putting in the effort to review this program, why not go all the way? What baffles me is the fact you would have to create a whole new elective to go with it, which seems like even more work than bringing journalism back all together.
Santa Barbara Junior High’s mission statement reads, “…empower [students] to reach their full potential as responsible, ethical and productive citizens in a diverse and changing world.” The journalism program is a phenomenal one that helps students achieve that excellence. However, keeping journalism restricted to only a club or half an elective is not empowering students to reach their full potential as writers and academics, and not allowing the program to reach its full potential either. Writing teaches students to use their own voice; that is never something that should be cut or reduced.