'Miseducation: Missing Voices' podcast explores lack of student journalism
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Newsrooms have been pressed to better their coverage of underrepresented communities by hiring and promoting more diverse voices. But where do these voices come from?
Many budding journalists learn through working on their high school newspapers. But, as the podcast “Miseducation: Missing Voices” points out, there’s a lack of journalism opportunities for many students of color in New York City — among the most diverse cities in the country. “Miseducation” is a student-reported podcast produced by the non-profit organization The Bell.
Baruch College professor Geanne Belton found that fewer than 25% of New York City high schools have student newspapers, says Sabrina DuQuesnay, student programs manager of The Bell.
Of the 50 schools with the highest percentage of Black students, only four had newspapers — compared to 38 of the 50 whitest high schools, DuQuesnay says.
“The lack of journalism opportunities in these schools signals just a greater issue and greater disparities that are actually reflected in the public school system,” DuQuesnay says. “New York City has one of the most segregated school systems in the country. And it’s not just journalism opportunities, but also access to just a wide range of opportunities that affect students across the board.”
4 questions with ‘Miseducation’ student reporter Jadelyn Camey and The Bell’s Sabrina DuQuesnay
Jadelyn, you went to one high school Townsend-Harris in Queens, where you got the chance to see their high school newspaper in action. How did that contrast with your high school?
Jadelyn Camey: “My high school was a very small high school called Energy Tech. And we didn’t have any high school newspapers available or any club of some sort. So when I wanted to try out journalism, I didn’t have any opportunity to do it inside my own school or after school. So I had to go and look online for internships. And that is how I found The Bell.
“[Townsend-Harris’s newspaper] covers a lot of things: They have a podcast called ‘Admitted’ where they take students who have gotten into their dream schools and they talk through that process. And that really is helpful to the school community when students are trying to see where they want to go. They have this really, really popular article about the best falafel places in New York. They just cover movies, current events that are happening and of course like what’s happening inside their community.”
Sabrina, how do you think the lack of journalism could change without these inequities? Some kids get a really brilliant, full-on journalism experience and others get nothing.
Sabrina DuQuesnay: ‘If we didn’t have this sort of barrier, you’d just have the representation of more diverse voices and perspectives. And I think that’s just so important. A lot of youth are disenchanted with the system and specifically with media. They don’t see themselves adequately represented in mainstream media.
“A lot of students of color have expressed to me [that] hey see constantly the barrage of negative things coming on the news specifically about their communities, our communities. Seeing that day to day, it really shapes the view that you can even have of yourself. [It] really comes back to the question of just like whose stories are actually being told.”
Sabrina, what was one thing that inspired you that you saw high schoolers do?
DuQuesnay: “I’ve seen students who have never written an article before and just to see their, their faces light up. Or haven’t done a podcast before and just to see how proud they are when they’ve actually completed the project, that just makes my day every single time. And it’s why I love my job.”
And Jadelyn, what about you? Are you going to pursue a career in journalism?
Camey: “Right now I am in my first year of college and I definitely see myself joining the school newspaper right now. So I’m going to test that out and see what kind of writing I can do to help the school community right here.”
Editor’s note: Producer Emiko Tamagawa is the aunt of Mira Gordon, who also works for The Bell.
This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
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