Journalism: English for the 21st Century

Esther Wojcicki, veteran journalism adviser at Palo Alto (Calif.) High School and chair of Creative Commons, wrote an essay called “Journalism: English for the 21st Century” for Nieman Reports. Key points include:

  1. That the drive for independence and freedom is alive and well in our teenagers today; if we enable it in our schools, students will respond. Yet far too often schools squelch students’ drive for independence and do what they can to control them.
  2. The two main drives in teens’ lives are for independence and acceptance; Palo Alto’s approach to journalism supports these drives through favoring freedom of expression and showcasing student work on a variety of public platforms.
  3. How can schools afford journalism programs when budgets are falling? The easiest way to pass on the skills and purpose of journalism is to have an online program, which is, after all, the future. Many Web tools are free.
  4. Critical thinking skills are essential for work in the 21st century, and journalism is all about picking out what is important and figuring out how to write a lede. It’s also a way to learn civic engagement skills; practicing journalism gets students involved in local, state and national issues.
  5. All students need these skills, not just journalism students.

Read the entire essay in Nieman Reports.