Chicago Public Schools needs to invest in school newspapers and journalism programs

The Southside Weekly ran a story about the journalism programs at three Chicago Public Schools: Juarez, Lindblom, and Hancock (where I teach journalism).  High-school newspapers, like so much of print media, are dying out.  But a few of us high-school teachers are finding ways to keep this medium–which challenges students to be responsible, informative, and insightful–alive.

“The philosophy that I follow with my students is that news should be insightful to the people that it affects… to the people included in the piece,” Salazar explained. “And I think that there aren’t enough relationships between the media and communities of color to where the information that is reported and presented is always insightful.”

As journalism education on the South and West Sides declines, those relationships are likely to become even sparser. “Who ends up in those media outlets?” Salazar asked. “It’s the students from the suburbs, from affluent communities… but then their relationship with the city is completely different and detached, and the reporting just cannot get into the nuances that it would if the reporters were homegrown Chicagoans.” With fewer local journalists doing in-depth reporting in these areas, communities may not feel journalism is worth engaging with or supporting—and that could mean even less journalism education in the future.

Salazar thinks that making journalism a greater priority in CPS schools now could change the nature of media publications in Chicago in years to come. Mainstream media outlets would benefit from partnering with CPS schools and engaging students at the high school level so that more of them are encouraged to pursue journalism.

To read the story in the Southside Weekly, click here.

To see the newspapers at Hancock College Prep, click here.

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