As students across the nation gain recognition for their roles in activism and planning protests, student journalists are faced with an important decision: do they attend as neutral reporters, or do they also participate as engaged and effected citizens?
Kaylee George, a junior at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California, was at Redwood City’s rally as a reporter for Scot Scoop News. Her goal was to remain neutral and help tell the stories of the march.
“To cover an event and to get a bunch of different perspectives and share the stories of the people going that’s pretty, not just impactful for me, but for the people whose stories are being told,” George said.
Mona Murhamer, a senior and staff writer for Scot Scoop News, wrote the main story to go with the team’s multimedia package. She said there was some temptation to participate in the march, but she realized she could help the movement by covering it.
“That was my way of broadcasting it to a larger audience than just the couple thousand that were there that day,” Murhamer said.
The day before the March for Our Lives, staff members from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s newspaper, The Eagle Eye, spoke at a Newseum event, where they explained they would be participating as well as covering the event. A mass shooting at the Florida school on Feb. 14, 2018 killed 17 students and staff, and the outspokenness of students in the aftermath touched off a national movement.
“Not only will my publication be recording history, but we’re going to be a part of it. I like to think that’s what we’re going to be doing,” said The Eagle Eye co-editor-in-chief Becca Schneid.
In Frisco, Texas, Neha Perumalla, a senior and executive producer for Liberty High School’s Wingspan TV had already planned to attend the march with some friends when she decided to also cover the event. She said the experience of participating and reporting taught her how to keep her opinions and feelings out of her work.
“Working with both sides really opened my eyes to see how the real world sort of works,” Neha said.
Reporters from The Wood Word at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania traveled to cover the main DC march. Editor-in-Chief Rachel Looker said the team attended strictly as reporters and did their best to cover the event in an unbiased way.
“We’re journalists,” Looker said. “We’re student journalists … I don’t think any of us brought up wanting to go ourselves. We’re reporting, and that is our job and our duty.”