As a team leader for tjTODAY, my school newspaper, I led a group of student journalists. One student, Eric, did not like to write and had joined the journalism class accidentally. His disinterest prompted him to study for his Chinese class during journalism. One day, I decided to sit with him and understand why Chinese interests him. Opening his textbook to a page translating to “Chinese New Year”, we read about the traditional “old-fashioned” fireworks and fried bean cakes. He compared the textbook to his own anecdotes, sharing his experience celebrating Chinese New Year as a Chinese-American. His dad works in China, so while some things remained traditional, his family called using “WeChat” and watched reruns of the Lunar New Year show “Spring Night”. This is not uncommon among some of his friends celebrating the festival in America as well, he said. The experience he shared and the way in which it was conveyed could not have been equivalently expressed in the textbook. This is especially because curriculums cannot always keep up with the changing world, and, therefore, do not always represent all experiences–yet these perspectives are just as important to learn about to get a true grasp of Chinese culture. The purpose of journalism is to give others a better understanding of the world, and in guiding him to write an article about “Chinese New Year”, I helped him do just that. Through discovering this value of the disliked activity to society in adding needed perspectives to the world and to himself in giving him a space to express his thoughts, he slowly found himself liking journalism–and even joined the class again the next year.
Shown above are the edits I made for his Chinese New Year article. Click here to read the published story.
I also often had the staff members help me with special projects to gain exposure in multimedia works. For example, for our 2019 December print photo issue, I had each of them practice caption-writing by writing a caption for the photos. Some of them also took photos or added illustrations to the photos for this spread. Through this, I taught them how to take immersing photos and write descriptive captions.
Click here to view the document where the staffers wrote their captions.
Click here to the final spread.