Kicking Off Scholastic Journalism Week: My Road to Journalism


By Emily Butera

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two columns written by the editors of Niles West News in honor of Scholastic Journalism week. 

Throughout my years as a young tomboy, I always thought I was going to grow up to be known solely as an athlete. I learned to gear all my effort towards the current sport I was in, and nothing really mattered more to me than excelling at it. After I got a taste of high school, however, that all changed.

My freshman year I enrolled in Journalism, mostly to get the English elective graduation requirement out of the way, but I never thought that I would be leaving the class one step closer to my future career. After learning how to write a nut graf, get a killer quote, and how to shoot photos using the rule of thirds, I began to think, “Hey, this might actually be for me.”

“Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information. It is also the product of these activities,” as the American Press Institute defines it.

I’d like to define it as a craft, where the journalists are the artists whose jobs are to tell people’s stories, all while educating the public. Without journalism, nobody would know about the emotional suffering of the young girl who was just separated from her father after being forced to come to America, what Peyton Manning’s plans were after winning Super Bowl 50, or the story behind the mysterious fire alarm that went off during final exams here at West, that just so happened to come from the Daycare kitchen.

Journalism has evolved immensely over time, with the primary form stemming from newspapers. In the eighteenth century, magazines were added, radio and television in the twentieth, and now journalism is thriving from the Internet. The term is currently more broad than ever, and anyone with a social media account can be involved in the process of spreading news.

With all of the changes in technology, the need for social media continues to grow. That being said, everyone who stays updated through their various accounts can say that they take place in the act. The student body does an excellent job of making sure everyone is electronically updated, which is something we should take advantage and be proud of.

Every day the NWN staff publishes stories about news going on around the school, the talented students and staff members, and people voicing their opinion who want to be heard. As a journalist myself, I have to say that there is no better feeling of publishing a story after digging deeper and deeper for the best details I can get. We, as journalists, want to find out everything we possibly can to tell the best story possible.

To celebrate the act and product of journalism, the Journalism Education Association dedicates a week each year to honor the work we do as scholastic journalists.

Without high school journalism, I would not know what I want to do with the rest of my life. I would not have the communication and leadership skills I posses. I would not have a passion and love so strong for any specific topic. I would be lost. But because of it, I know that I am going to be successful one day and no matter where I end up, I will without a doubt get to go to work each day loving what I am doing.

Managing, writing, and shooting photography for the NWN has opened doors that not many people are lucky enough to walk through. I mean, c’mon, who gets to say they have traveled all around the country to talk to other journalists and advisers on how to better their personal skills and publication as a whole?

Looking back on all the stories and events I have had the privilege to cover, I can reminisce about a few stand outs.

Personally my favorite event to take photos at is the annual Orchesis Dance Company concert that takes place each March here at Niles West. It has become a tradition of mine to capture the spirit and vigor the dancers exhibit, and some of my these pictures have even won awards.

Not only have I been able to shoot events allowing me for a few “back-stage” or “VIP” passes, but being a journalist allows me to get information most teachers at the school don’t even have, and I get to be the one to tell them about it. I’m beyond lucky to say that I have had opportunities most students haven’t had, and because of it, I am going to go into college next year already having the experience. High school journalism has prepared me for all that is coming my way in the future.

This week is about turning the spotlight over to the people behind the screens, the ones publishing all of this information first hand, because what we do matters, and we deserve to be recognized for it.

Let’s take this week to continue to tell our stories, and do it with big smiles on our faces, because yes, people are watching.