The New York Times claims that it has “All the news that’s fit to print.” Fox News Network claims to offer “Fair and balanced” news. The Onion dubs itself “America’s finest news.”
The sad fact is that as time goes on, The Onion’s slogan is becoming more accurate than the slogans of our mainstream news outlets, despite being a satire of traditional news. The New York Times has long been a bastion of the left, often accusedof skewing the news to suit the “liberal agenda.” On the other side of the coin, Fox’s “fair and balanced” reporting is often anything but fair and balanced, as evidenced by the fact that the network is home to at least four potential Republican presidential candidates. In our modern times, news has been supplanted by partisan opinion pieces designed to entertain and to garner ratings rather than to inform and educate. At least The Onion doesn’t pretend to offer real news.
Many people recognize the partisan nature of our modern media, but there seems to be little outrage about the fact that our political parties seem to have bought out the press. Once upon a time, the press was the Fourth Estate, a body powerful enough to act as a watchdog over our wayward politicians. In 1972, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein revealed the dirty tricks of the Nixon administration, ultimately changing American politics forever. In 1906, Upton Sinclair revealed the disgusting and unsanitary practices of our meatpacking industry, resulting in the oversight and regulations that we take for granted today. The press has a wonderful history of keeping our government in line, but our modern day media frenzies have subverted that history.
Simply look at the polls released by each major news outlet. On the right, Fox News released a recent poll showing that only 19% of Americans are confident about our economy, while 52% were concerned and 28% were “scared”. On the left, CNN released a recent poll that showed exactly the opposite: 62% felt that the economy was recovering or on the way to recovering while only 36% felt that the economy was getting worse. How can one poll show that Americans are scared while other shows that they are confident? Are we a schizophrenic nation, or has our media simply portrayed us as one?
It is up to our future generations to bring the press back to its role of protector. It is up to today’s budding journalists to carry forth the values of truth and unbiased reporting.
If you have a child interested in a career in journalism, it is important to encourage their passion. Below is a sampling of some of the journalism programs students might consider. Remember that there are many more programs throughout the country. Consider contacting your local college or university to ask about available options.
J-Camp: J-Camp is a week-long summer program sponsored by the Asian American Journalists Association.
- Curriculum includes interactive workshops, hands-on training, and field trips
- Focuses on diversity in journalism
- Open to high school sophomores and juniors with a strong interest in journalism (students must be 16 years old before the start of the program)
- Those accepted will have all travel, housing, and meals paid for
- Acceptance decisions are based on academics, interest/skill in journalism, and geographic background; applications must be submitted by April 1
Discover the World of Communication: This summer program, available in 2-, 3- or 4-week sessions, is offered by American University in Washington, D.C.
- First come, first serve. Register early for best course selection options.
- Housing ranges from $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the length of the session; tuition is determined by course
- Courses are offered in many different areas, including:
Summer at Georgetown Broadcast Journalism Institute: This 8-day program offers an excellent experience to explore the world of journalism at the center of our political universe: Washington, D.C.
- Tuition: $2,100 including housing and meals
- Hands-on experiences and lectures by well-respected journalists teach students the fundamentals of traditional journalism as well as the unique new technologies involved in modern media
- Topics covered include:
- Interview skills
- Social media as a reporting tool
- Media ethical dilemmas
- Press conferences
- White House and Capitol Hill reporting
Newsroom by the Bay: This one week program offered by Stanford University places students in a friendly competition to create the best news platform.
- Open to rising 10th through 12th graders
- First come, first serve so apply early!
- Tuition is $1,350 for students who stay in dorms and $795 for commuters
- Blends traditional journalism curriculum with 21st century media technology
- Combination of challenging classes and hands-on training
Summer Journalism Institute at Emerson College: This two week program places students in the exciting city of Boston, Massachusetts.
- Students study traditional journalism formats as well as blogs, texting, microblogs, and mobile devices
- Open to rising 10th through 12th graders
- Tuition is $2,495 including room and board
Local newspapers and foreign language newspapers: Many local papers accept student volunteers or interns, as do many foreign language newspapers. Contact your local paper for more information.
Remember that demonstrating a passion for a chosen career can often help to improve a student’s college application. Summer programs such as these not only help students to provide proof of their interests, they also provide a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience. Moreover, journalism is a field for which scholarship opportunities abound. Be sure to look for journalism scholarships as your child begins his or her college search. If your child is passionate about journalism, now is the time to encourage their interest.