Campus Journalism is More Than an Academic Perk
(This was the feature article that I submitted to the Tarlac City Schools Division’s Webinar on Digital Publication in the New Normal.)
Exemptions in classes.
Which of these would really delight a campus journalist’s heart?
Press conferences for campus journalists are a well-anticipated event annually by students, teachers, and resource speakers alike. It is usually happening in the last quarter of the year with the national competition commencing in the early months of the succeeding year. It is like the Christmas season but instead of wrapping gifts and putting decors, school paper advisers and campus journalists wrap stories to publish and put efforts to win at least a category. At school, this is what we do before.
As the heat of the contest starts regardless of the level (i.e. district, division, regional, or national), CJs flock to the school library with pen, paper, and a pocketbook of synonyms, antonyms, and thesaurus as if it is a magic book that could help them put into words what they have in mind. They convene with their fellow writers and coach to discuss what they will write.
“Practice makes perfect,” said the coach. For a Grade 7 newbie, these words would both ring a string of hope and spark a tremble of angst in his young heart to find inspiration to write and the dread to finish his article.
It’s 8 AM when classes are usually in the peak of recitation and quiz but here is our newbie, firmly seated in the library and is anxiously outlining his article; only to find out that the older writers will just go chit-chatting in between lexis and go dilly-dallying between paragraphs, obviously having fun outside their classroom.
“Is this the perk of being a CJ?” he asks.
Afternoons are usually hot, but students seemingly do not mind the heat in exchange for the fun they are having with a ball. However, this is not the kind of heat our newbie is feeling. One assignment due this very afternoon is left undone. His sweats create abstract maps on his back. He’s very afraid of what his teacher will say about an assignment that was not turned in.
As he enters the classroom, his teacher calls him and hands him the excuse letter with the teacher’s fresh signature. His name is highlighted, and, to his delight, he is excused from class and exempted from the assignment.
He holds the excuse letter like a prized possession — a lifesaver as he makes his way to the library. There, he meets with his fellow writers and coach to discuss what they will write but the strings and sparks of hope and of dread no longer ring and tremble in his young heart. Instead, he finds himself exchanging playful glances and words with newfound friends and daydreaming between pages of his drafts.
The same routine happens until the contest day comes. The coaches would say, “It’s okay if you won’t win. Experience matters.”
If our school will not win at least one category, what is the point of preparing for long? Campus journalists are conditioned to win but told to just enjoy the experience when the contest comes but in its real essence, what campus journalism is for?
For the student journalists of Amucao National High School, our real battle happens not in the four corners of the contest room. Our battle and struggle take place when we are writing and producing our newspaper. ANHSIan writers win their way in ravaging the immediate community with tales of inspiration and interests and these tales would encourage fellow ANHSians to love their community.
Yes, ANHSians scribble stories for the community.
It could be stories of building business like the Kuya Lito’s calamansi plantation, smoking goodness of Tea-Napa, the spawning triumph of Itikan and Balut.
It could be on the success of agriculture like the humble beginnings of the ASGAIC Seed Center, the Amuqueños’ patronage for crop production, and the benefits of organic farming.
Yes, ANHSians scribble stories for inspiration.
It could be a journey of talent, inspiration, and strength such as the singing Pagarigan siblings and the Galano family.
It could be the chronicles of student success in varied competitions like Justin’s makeup strokes in Technolympics, Ryne and Martina’s winning arguments in the New Generation Week, or Stephanie’s writing quest as a qualified news writer in the National Student Press Conference in Tuguegarao City.
Yes, ANHSians scribble stories for fellow ANHSians.
ANHSian writers are leading the way in terms of making DepEd memoranda, division orders, community ordinances, and even republic acts reader-friendly while preserving the content and essence of the information. Every page of the student school publication is made to make essential information accessible and interesting that is befitting the context of the immediate community.
The pandemic is NEVER a blockage to shut down the school publication. In fact, it is a gateway to promoting digital and media literacy and activism to fight fake news. This is the high time to practice liberating yet responsible campus journalism.
Exemptions in classes. Additional grades. Experience. Which of these would really delight a campus journalist’s heart?
Now, let’s go back to our Grade 7 newbie. Will the experience stop when the contest is over? Is campus journalism all about contests and winning and gaining experience? The newbie’s mindset should be corrected.
Campus journalism is not like the Christmas season that is only done within a time frame. The publication is not written for wrapping gifts and putting decors on the classroom’s bulletin board.
The contests regardless of the level (i.e. district, division, regional, or national) are NEVER an avenue to JUST GAIN EXPERIENCE.
In this pressing time, school paper advisers and campus journalists work together to wrap stories to practice liberating and responsible journalism.
Here in ANHS, campus journalists ink stories for fellow ANHSians! More than, medals and certificates, campus journalists write to inspire and influence others and become the voice of the unheard. ANHSian CJs serve as amplifiers of truth and transparency and leaders of student service.