As co-editor of the Dodger, the newspaper at Dodge City High School, I am appalled by the Kansas State Department of Education's decision to cut off funding for journalism and yearbook courses in the near future. Its reasons for doing so are ridiculous.
The function of journalism is to inform the public about issues. That is our paper's editorial policy, as it is for hundreds of other student- and business-run publications throughout the nation. If we allow the state's Education Department to eliminate the ability for students to explore, learn about and gain experience in the journalism field, we are doing ourselves a grave disservice.
Additionally, without the necessary tools (funding) and knowledge to produce stories and inform others about news, events and issues of public interest, students no longer will have the opportunity to pursue their dreams of writing, designing, reporting or editing for a publication.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, news analysts, reporters and correspondents held 69,300 jobs in 2008; 53 percent worked for newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers. Thousands of students may not be able to pursue these careers if students do not have access to the education they need and deserve to excel in these fields.
What about the Education Department's mission of "leadership and support for student learning"?
I'm not seeing much support or appreciation of the leadership skills one gains through taking journalism and yearbook courses.
To those who say journalism and the print media are dying, I say, "hogwash." If anything, the increasingly rapid change to online publication and other forms of media is good for the industry. This change gives publications the opportunity to strengthen their publications by evolving them into more easily accessible, interactive and exciting venues. In fact, the Dodger is now available online (dchsdodger.com), and the production process has given all students on staff valuable experience in web production, tighter deadlines and different means of presentation.
I can honestly say I have gotten more out of my journalism courses than any other classes in high school. My journalism education has transformed a curiosity into a passion, and it has transformed a passion into a desire to further my education in this field.