Grasping the function of journalism

Two weeks ago I went to the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco. Twice a year the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association host the convention in a different major U.S. city so high school journalists from across the country can network with industry professionals and experience diversity firsthand. Over 3,000 students came with their teachers and over 200 sessions were given, one in which I gave with my teacher. This was part of my final exam grade, so not going was not an option.
I hesitantly enrolled in Communication 401 (scholastic journalism) this spring, but now that I’ve have had time to reflect on the semester, I am extremely pleased with how the class turned out. What I learned through my experiences in San Francisco I will take with me for the rest of my life. Diversity is all over, and the media is responsible for spreading awareness to it.
My session was titled, ‘Ethics: Doing the right thing,’ and I also had the honor to judge a feature writing competition alongside eight certified high school journalism educators. One woman, a teacher at Beverly Hills High School, shared with me the diversity in her school, shooting down all the clichés we think of when we think of Beverly Hills. Her students range from having parents who are movie producers to students whose parents crossed the border illegally and are there solely to give their children a grounded education.
Another judge was an openly gay man from Nebraska-now teaching in Washington-who had been teaching journalism for more than a decade. One former colleague of his was fired from his school in Nebraska because of his sexuality. Some of his students who came on the trip with him were gay and struggling with coming out. The school paper was their escape and forum of expression.
Another judge was from Boston. Being there was a Boston Celtics game on television just minutes before I attended the judge’s dinner, I asked if he was a Celtics fan. He said, “Not a basketball fan actually. It seems no matter how far away I go, Boston is still on the TV.”
The main thing I learned from my convention experience is that no matter where you live in the world, the one thing connecting us all is the media. Journalists are there for the greater good of the public. Without them, the world cannot function properly, and without dedicated journalism educators those reporters and writers would not have the ethical backbone which the media industry requires.
If there was no television news broadcasts, daily newspaper, literary magazines or even yearbooks people would not know about diversity and happenings in the world, let alone their hometown. Despite the many news outlets producing inaccurate news after the Boston bombings, worldwide, nobody would have known about it if the credible news outlets did not exist.  
At first I was dreading this class because of the expense I had to put out in order to satisfy the expectations, but now that it’s all said and done it was so worth it. Anytime you have the chance to experience new ideas elsewhere, take it and don’t let it go. If you you don’t, then you may miss out on extraordinary self-discovery.