| Black Hills State University has joined two other state universities and other entities in North Dakota and South Dakota in an effort to reverse the decline in student participation in high school journalism programs.
Black Hills State University has joined two other state universities and other entities in North Dakota and South Dakota in an effort to reverse the decline in student participation in high school journalism programs.
The #JournalismIs program began more than a year ago as a way to revive high school journalism in North and South Dakota and redefine it for the digital age. As part of the program, 23 grants for journalism curriculum and program enhancements have been awarded to various high schools across the two-state region.
Seven grants were awarded to outstanding programs and 16 went to schools that want to start new programs or improve current ones. One of the grants went to Lesa Krajewski, a BHSU alum and the yearbook adviser at Belle Fourche High School, who will use the funds to enhance the school’s journalism program.
BHSU and the University of South Dakota joined the initiative established by the North Dakota Newspaper Association Education Foundation and the South Dakota Newspaper Association in cooperation with South Dakota State University and the South Dakota High School Activities Association.
The goal of the grant program is to recognize outstanding journalism programs, encourage new program start-ups and assist programs that are seeking to improve.
“The state journalism education initiative has been successful and has shown that the universities -- and high schools -- in South Dakota and North Dakota are able to collaborate on bringing a vital matter to the forefront of education,” said Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser, BHSU associate professor of mass communication. “The hope is that the activity will be a model for others to follow.”
Since the start of the #JournalismIs program, university professors and students have been creating promotional material and talking with high school students about the importance of journalism courses.
Caton-Rosser and several recent BHSU graduates have been involved with the program helping to prepare a media kit which included an audio PSA, posters, and press releases.
Caton-Rosser said she has heard talk that journalism is “dead” however she said it is more important than ever to encourage people to enter into the field of journalism.
“The world needs passionate, driven journalists who assertively find news and bring the facts truthfully and objectively to the public in an era of information overload,” she said. “The use of advanced communications technology has brought journalists an entirely new channel of bringing news to the public, including social media. “
The training, knowledge and passion can begin in high school, Caton-Rosser said. “It’s a necessity for high school newspapers and websites to flourish with the backing of school administrators and the hands-on work of students. Studies that the state initiative reviewed showed that journalism students are in-tune with the world around them and above average in academics because they are inherently connected to the trends of society.”
The initiative’s next step involves following up with the schools awarded grants and continuing outreach to other schools throughout the two-state region.