About this class...
This iPad-based senior tutorial is a civic engagement project in which graduating seniors mentor young journalists – particularly those who don’t have any resources for journalistic expression. Deploying in teams on a weekly basis, Media Mentors volunteer at selected local high schools and/or complete other projects as assigned. In addition, the Media Mentors explore their own knowledge about the purposes, principles and practices of the news profession, its ethical underpinnings and links to a democratic society.
This semester, Media Mentors will use the iPad to document and produce content for at least one of the project’s three culminating experiences.
Spend a few minutes reading the News Flashes section on the Student Press Law Center website and you will get a clear picture of the state of high school journalism in Southern California and across America. As college journalists, you would be horrified if the university president, one of your professors or even your classmates tried to prevent you from publishing or presenting factual, accurate, balanced and fair news stories. This would violate your First Amendment rights. But, it happens on a regular basis throughout the greater Los Angeles region and elsewhere.
Despite state lawmakers’ and youth media advocates’ efforts to ensure students’ rights to publish, many school administrators regularly violate the state education code by demanding prior review, censoring stories and confiscating newspapers. The effect is chilling: Fewer schools have newspapers or any other form of student news media, and those that do have serious budget constraints or staff issues causing crowded classrooms and fewer editions – effectively silencing students’ voices. Many publications are filled with fluff because the young journalists are prevented from covering real issues, such as teen suicide rates, or publishing editorial cartoons critical of a losing athletic team.
For many high schools, journalism is an extracurricular after-school activity designed to keep students busy rather than as a vehicle for teaching and learning about First Amendment protections of a free press or how to write well. Ironically, national studies show students who participate in journalism in high school do better in college. Some young journalists find allies in independent programs outside of school, such as the CSUN Journalism Media Mentors, which launched in Spring 2005 as a university-affiliated service-learning project.
Since its inception, nearly 200 graduating senior journalism majors have completed the project, which has involved more than a dozen local schools and programs. The structure is flexible and varied, depending on the numbers of graduating seniors in the course and participating high schools or youth media projects in any given semester. Students must spend at least two hours per week at or involved with their high school sites or in producing the various special projects developed in this course.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication recognized Media Mentors as an innovative outreach project.