Serious Journalism Discussions Dominate Teen Conference

Educators / April 26, 2017

Riding on a plane home from my 13th straight national journalism conference, I couldn’t stop checking the #nhsjc hashtag and adding a few more flips to my conference mag. The presentations at the conference by leading educators were well done with beautiful lessons, but it was the student journalism that inspired me the most and what my students will want to see in class. The work that the best high school journalists produce in many ways is what this conference is all about.  Most of the award winning stories can be found on the NSPA Online Pacemaker and Finalist list and the JEA/Flipboard Best of High School Flipboard Magazine.

Beyond the student work, I heard so many discussions on serious journalism from the 4,000 teenagers or journalists. In the halls of the Seattle conference to Pike’s Market and on ferry rides, all I heard were serious journalism discussions—which isn’t always the case, especially when conferences involve Disney and a character by the name of Mickey Mouse. In Seattle, the tone was different as attendees discussed the hard hitting journalism done by the students in Pittsburg, Kansas that led to a principal being removed to new legislation passing in Washington to teach media literacy in every grade, to New Voices acts moving through the state legislation in Missouri and other states. I can’t forget discussions of Flipboard’s Truth Series and the NY Times’ “Truth is Hard” ad. Provocative, for sure. I didn’t ever imagine I would be debating the essence of truth at journalism conferences, but times are changing.

Recent times that are not only forces political changes, but educational changes. Changes that I think are being modelled by high achieving journalism programs.  When I have gone to other edu conferences such as ISTE or NCTE, I heard so many presenters calling for high school classes to be student centered, authentic, include digital media, and allow for more student voice. All of these trending education topics can be found in the lessons of high school journalism educators and the high-quality products that they are producing—ideas that I think any teacher can bring to their classroom. Last year, I presented my “5 Ways to Bring Blogging to (Any) Class” presentation on a few ways I think the journalism project based education model can be done in any class.

And with that, my plane is landing and the #nhsjc hashtag stream is coming to a slow trickle until the next high school conferences in Dallas and San Francisco begin.

Jonathan Rodgers is curating Award LH Stories

Jonathan Rogers is an award-winning journalism adviser at Iowa City High School. He speaks nationally about digital journalism, bringing student voices into classes through blogging, using social media, video storytelling, and more. Jonathan is also a contributing writer for Media Shift,, and the English in Texas Journal, and he blogs about education on Medium. In addition to Flipboard, you can follow him on Twitter, Snapchat and at his Website.