Cartoon by Kevin Ho.
As staff members of a hyperlocal student publication, some may wonder if we are sticking our heads where they don’t belong when we tackle national and political issues. There is not a clear consensus about whether the purpose of a school newspaper is to simply cover what’s happening inside the hallways, or if there is an additional a responsibility to inform our community about what’s going on in the world around us.
Recently, American society has been engrossed in a polarizing debate over the role and responsibility of the media. In the midst of this, student publications are left wondering where they stand. While some believe that student journalists should cover current events, many believe that these stories are too controversial and should be left to “the professionals.”
However, it is clear that as tensions in our country continue to rise, there has never been a more important time for us student journalists to cover national issues.
These national issues may seem odd for student journalists to take on, but they impact CHS students and staff just as much as anyone else. Therefore, we must cover them, as they pertain to our community.
Current events impact student’s personal lives as well as their academic lives.
It is necessary to explain how a certain executive order or legislative bill could impact students’ futures, and it is vital to address the student-led demonstrations constantly occurring throughout the country.
Our responsibilities as student journalists go beyond simply informing our school of local occurrences. We have the responsibility to inform the community of issues that impact their lives.
Many people believe that teenagers are simply too young to be properly informed about politics and the world around us.
However, this type of thinking is simply irresponsible, as it is telling students that they should only care about non-school occurrences even though they are directly influenced by the world we live in.
Teenagers have the capability to care about multiple things at once. One can be worried about school dances and science exams, and also be concerned about our current political climate at the same time.
The two are not mutually exclusive.
Society tends to generalize young people as apathetic towards the world around them. Our voices are either valued less or dismissed completely.
According to a May 2016 NPR article, millennials have the lowest voter turnout of any age group.
Promoting political literacy amongst teenagers not only increases their chances of voting, but it also increases their participation in all forms of government and civil engagement.
As our community’s newspaper, we can start these conversations now. We have the power to arm young people with accurate information, nuanced perspectives and critical thinking skills that will be useful for the rest of their lives.
The Observer has consistently been a primary example of the change that high school students can create. Just last year, an editorial on the lack of transgender bathroom policies encouraged changes in county policy on the issue. As a student newspaper, we have the invaluable ability to influence and enact change.
It is fair to say that CHS is populated with some of the most academically intelligent teenagers in the country. Our hallways are filled with future scholars, senators, activists, journalists, artists, mathematicians and possibly the next president of the United States. It is our responsibility to strengthen our minds so the weight of the world can rest confidently on our shoulders.