Journalist of the Year Portfolio


News Literacy

News Literacy

As a journalist, it's important for me to be both a producer and consumer of quality journalism. Whenever I read the news or absorb the media, I'm always putting the content through a careful filter — paying close attention to which ideas could be most relevant to my community. By acquiring an awareness of the world around me and thinking critically about the credibility or bias in any articles I read, I can create stories that don't just regurgitate the news — but stories that present information in a fresh, innovative and relevant way.

Where's the tipping point?

Over the last year, I have been closely watching the media's coverage of one topic in particular: gender identity. In recent years, this topic has gained a growing presence in the national media, and because St. Mark's is an all-boys school — a school defined by gender — the implications of this topic are significant on campus. However, a complex topic like this must be carried out in the most timely, relevant and thorough way. With this in mind, whenever gender identity issues jumped to the forefront of the American psyche, I saved the news article or Tweet to be referenced at a later time. In doing so, I was constantly waiting for a tipping point — a point in which the topic and its implications could no longer be ignored. When many transgender politicians (click link to see my source) were elected in Nov. 8 — including Danica Roem with a historical victory in Virginia — I felt the tipping point had been reached and we began shaping our most recent Focus Magazine on gender identity.

Click the images below to enlarge and view more details.

In addition to using the best media sources at my disposal to brainstorm our own coverage, we must also have the ability to identify biases and put important information in context for readers. To do this for gender identity, we wanted to include a statement at the beginning of the package to answer the question we knew many readers would ask us: "Why?" The initial draft of this statement, however, needed the proper edits to ensure it was free from biases and effectively placed the topic in the right context.

Click here to read the initial and final versions of the "Why?" statement side by side.

the talk

When I found a Dallas Morning News article with the headline, "Black kids across Dallas are getting 'the talk' their white friends won't hear," I was inspired by the meaningful content and story presentation styles. Although the article itself is short, I knew we had enough here to build a whole section around.

The article bases itself around how African-American families in Dallas are having conversations with their children about how you must conduct yourself as an African-American. These conversations can range from detailed advice on treating police officers, on how to behave while out with friends, or on anything else parents find relevant in today's times.

During some opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement in the country, The Dallas Morning News provided a variety of coverage with sources from different backgrounds — sources who provided factual content free from bias.

This coverage was channeled in our own reporting by localizing the content I found and telling the story of the Dallas police shooting aftermath from the perspective of African-American families at our school.

Use the arrows below to view "The Talk" section of the November 2016 issue of Focus Magazine.

Click on the photo above to read the article that inspired a full section in our November 2016 magazine.

Click on the photo above to read the article that inspired a full section in our November 2016 magazine.