USC Student Voice Project working to make journalism education part of English curriculum in all schools

The need for news literacy in schools has never been more important and journalism participation has been shown to foster students’ development of media and news literacy skills.

The Student Voice Project understood the need for news literacy in schools and decided to change something. In October 2014, the Student Voice Project affiliated with the USC Dornsife Joint Educational Project, one of the oldest and largest service-learning programs in the country.

Chris Fager, the co-founder of the Student Voice Project, said the organization started in 2006 when a friend started teaching at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, California.

“He was teaching English and wanted to revive the school paper that had been dead for five years,” he said. “We helped him raise money for equipment, printing, cameras, etc., and he was able to restart the paper.  We received inquiries from other schools and decided to undertake a city-wide effort to launch or restart papers in other schools.”

The non-profit helps support journalism education and student media for at-risk youth. SVP currently serves thirteen schools in the greater Los Angeles area.

“There has been an enormous amount of research over the years confirming that secondary students involved in journalism education and student media have higher grades, better SAT scores and generally move on to college in higher percentages,” Fager said.

Fager said reporting, writing and critical thinking involved in journalism are big advantages for any student.

“In schools with higher numbers of disadvantaged students, student media is something that engages students in school and can prevent them from dropping out,” he said. “We’ve seen this a number of times with our own students.”

Fager believes all students should be required to take a journalism class.

“An overall goal of ours is to see journalism education established as a part of the English curriculum,” he said.

At a time when traditional media is transitioning, Fager said teaching journalism principles to young students can help them assess the validity and integrity of any reporting.

To see a list of schools that are involved, please visit their website. If a school is interested in getting involved or learning more about the organization, contact Chris Fager.

For more information about SVP, check out this video where Felix Ruano, former editor-in-chief of The Ambassador, the school newspaper of the Ambassador School of Global Leadership, tells about his student journalism experience with SVP as he prepares to depart for Harvard University.