We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

We've got the news down to a science!

The Science Survey

The Importance of School Newspapers and Student Journalism

How school newspapers and student journalists play a vital role in the school experience.
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Alistair Blee
Aaqib Gondal ‘24 works on an article for ‘The Science Survey’ in the Journalism Workshop class at Bronx Science.

When I joined Bronx Science’s official school newspaper The Science Survey during my sophomore year, I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe it was because I had spent my ninth grade year in my room, taking classes on Zoom, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Regardless, I had almost no clue what to expect. When I asked my friends and upperclassmen about it, they all told me different things. Players on sports teams told me how reporters would come to practices and games to take photos. Debaters said the paper would report on their success in tournaments.  Other students talked about how they had been interviewed and their opinion on a random topic had been published. What I soon learned was that this school’s paper meant different things to every student in the school. 

In this age, where digital media dominates the landscape, high school newspapers remain a crucial institution, nurturing critical thinking, media literacy, and providing a platform for student expression. As a three-year member of this paper, I have witnessed firsthand the profound impact that student journalism can have on individuals and the school community as a whole. Through the lens of student journalism, young writers and readers alike develop essential skills and a deeper understanding of the world around them. Even for students who are not journalists, the paper serves as a platform for expression and creating a sense of connection with the school community.

High school newspapers like The Science Survey serve as a microcosm of larger media ecosystems, offering students a unique opportunity to develop journalistic skills in real-world settings. Through writing, editing, and publishing articles, students gain hands-on experience to  cultivate critical-thinking skills and sharpen their ability to analyze and convey complex information. This process not only enhances their academic abilities but also prepares them for future endeavors in any field that values communication and analytical skills.

One of the most significant benefits of participating in a school paper is the development of media literacy. In today’s information-saturated world, the ability to discern credible sources from misinformation is crucial. Student journalists learn to navigate this landscape, understanding the importance of accuracy, ethics, and responsibility in reporting. This education extends beyond the newsroom, equipping students with the tools to critically evaluate the media they consume daily.

“Joining The Science Survey has been one of the best decisions I have made during my time at Bronx Science,” said Isabel Goldfarb ‘25, a Copy Chief for The Science Survey. “I have seen my writing skills improve with time. Going into the college process, I feel confident in my writing abilities largely thanks to the help and experience gained from being in Mr. Thorp’s Journalism class, where we write for The Science Survey. Journalism has also helped me become a better researcher and has let me dive deep into learning about topics I am passionate about.”

This idea applies not only to students in journalism, but all students who read the paper. For many, mainstream media can be daunting and seemingly inaccessible with its large-scale topics and confusing agendas. School papers provide a place for students to learn about their community and even about the real world on a much more approachable scale. Furthermore, school newspapers provide an essential platform for student voices. At Bronx Science, The Science Survey has been instrumental in giving students a forum to express their opinions, share their experiences, and highlight issues important to them, to a worldwide audience, currently at around 458,000 individual readers each year from all over the world. This platform not only empowers students but also fosters a sense of community and engagement within the school. By addressing topics ranging from school policies to social issues, student journalists can influence the dialogue within their schools and the wider Bronx area.

Students require the freedom to express themselves in a manner that is respectful, thoughtful, and accepted. A newspaper class can grant those passionate individuals a voice that is done in a way that brings credibility to the writer as well as to the school. It also allows teachers and administration to monitor the content to ensure appropriateness and relevance.

“I don’t read the news as much as I should, but I like that Bronx Science is writing about real news,” said Ryan Walsh ’24, a recently graduated senior from Bronx Science. “I looked at The Science Survey’s website because my friend wrote an article, and I while I was there, I saw so many articles on all these different things at our school and around the world. I feel like when I see students at our school write about things, I can relate to their topics more, and I feel more compelled to read it.” 

But a newspaper is more than just a means to disseminate information. It is the voice of the student body. It is a place where students can voice their opinions, their ideas, and their ideals. The main reason for giving students a voice is so that those who feel they can enter the dialogue become participants, rather than spectators. This way, participants are more apt to listen to both sides, to be positive contributors, and to care.

Journalism fosters a community of transparency and collaboration. As a result of a school paper, students feel as if they have a proactive role in their community and that they can enact change when they want. School-wide, community, and even systematic issues can be addressed through a school paper. During the pandemic, student publications played a key role in holding administrators and students accountable. For instance, The Michigan Daily exposed a COVID-19 outbreak among the fraternities and sororities at University of Michigan, Arizona State University’s student publication reported on students leaving their dorms while they were supposed to be under quarantine, and the student paper at the University of South Carolina alerted the public to the ways in which the administration was withholding information about COVID-19 clusters. 

Bronx Science is a place with thousands of different perspectives and experiences. However we often emphasize the ‘amazing’ over the profound things that we see every day. We all know about the 9 Nobel Laureates who graduated from our school and the fact that Neil deGrasse Tyson and Min Jin Lee are alumni. But at the same time, there are students, teachers, and administrators with likely equally interesting stories that the student body would benefit from hearing. Countless articles published in The Science Survey have highlighted teachers and their impacts in the community – many of them written by current or former students. A similar number of articles have been dedicated to student success, ranging from clubs, sports teams, and academic achievements. A student paper that highlights such excellent stories hidden within our school acts as a way to connect those stories to the student body, thus building comradeship and student discovery of one another.

However, the role of school newspapers has not been without controversy. Recent instances of censorship, such as bans on covering politically sensitive topics like the war in Gaza, have raised significant concerns about freedom of expression in school journalism. These incidents highlight the ongoing struggle for editorial independence and the challenges that student journalists face in tackling contentious issues. The ability to report on such topics is crucial for fostering a robust and informed student body, and attempts to stifle this coverage undermine the educational and societal value of school newspapers.

“I feel like there are some things that the school newspaper should avoid, because then it becomes a problem,” said Jahir Castellanos ’24, a recently graduated Bronx Science senior. “At the school, the War in Gaza is a really heated topic with a lot of controversy surrounding it. If the newspaper covered things like that, I could see there being a bit of pushback and then maybe the school paper becomes less of a good thing… Still, I think that there are many good things that the newspaper does that are beneficial to the school.”

Despite these challenges, the benefits of school newspapers are manifold. They play a pivotal role in developing informed, articulate, and engaged citizens. By providing a training ground for future journalists and a voice for the student body, publications like The Science Survey demonstrate the enduring importance of school papers. They serve as a testament to the power of youth journalism in shaping not only individual futures but also the broader community.

High school newspapers are invaluable assets that enrich the educational experience. As we navigate an increasingly complex media landscape, the lessons learned in the school newsroom are more important than ever. High school newspapers, with their commitment to truth, community, and student voice, will continue to be a cornerstone of educational and personal development and hopefully inspire many more generations of students.

“Joining The Science Survey has been one of the best decisions I have made during my time at Bronx Science,” said Isabel Goldfarb ‘25, a Copy Chief for The Science Survey. “I have seen my writing skills improve with time. Going into the college process, I feel confident in my writing abilities largely thanks to the help and experience gained from being in Mr. Thorp’s Journalism class, where we write for The Science Survey. Journalism has also helped me become a better researcher and has let me dive deep into learning about topics I am passionate about.”

About the Contributors
Oliver Whelan, Staff Reporter
Oliver Whelan is an Editor-in-Chief for ‘The Science Survey.’ He enjoys journalistic writing because of its ability to convey information on topics that would otherwise be overlooked by the public. Beyond that, finding a story that will change people’s hearts and minds is what compels him to write. He also enjoys photography, using cameras to tell stories in ways words alone cannot. Outside of school, Oliver likes to read, play soccer, and travel. In college, Oliver wants to study international relations, history, or social studies. He is interested in learning about past events and how they relate to the current world, and he hopes to pursue a career that continues to inform and better the lives of many. Oliver looks forward to pursuing journalistic and academic research in the future.
Alistair Blee, Staff Reporter
Alistair Blee is an Editorial Editor and Staff Reporter for 'The Science Survey.' He enjoys the creative writing and in depth analyses of topics for which journalistic writing creates a platform. Alistair finds that his favorite thing about journalistic photography is its potential to reveal stories behind average moments in life. Some of his interests include endurance sports, arts, cars and building things. Alistair is not sure what he wants to study in college, but he is considering studying architecture. In ten years, he sees himself potentially working in graphic design, entrepreneurship, or a trade.