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Grow Local students learn why journalism matters

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Students from Consuelo Schwartz' Spanish 4 class visited The Daily Reflector on Monday as part of the countywide Grow Local initiative.

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The Daily Reflector
and SCHS Spanish 4

Monday, March 18, 2019

Journalism matters because the news media connects people to important events in their community and helps them contribute as citizens, South Central High School students who toured The Daily Reflector as part of countywide career event said on Monday.

The Daily Reflector on Monday hosted 30 students from South Central as part of Grow Local, a week-long initiative led by the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce to educate county youth about jobs and careers available right here.

Students toured the paper and participated in discussions and exercises about the role of newspapers in today’s world. The group, from Consuelo Schwartz’s advanced Spanish class at the school, talked about coverage of immigration and a proposed border wall and other news of the day.

“Journalism informs readers on important events,” said Ry’-Yez Riggins, 15, and a sophomore. 

Like many of the students, Riggins said he does not typically read the newspaper, although he reads many newspaper stories on his phone, including coverage of a scandal involving a teacher at a previous school in Texas.

The visit to the paper helped him and other students understand how journalists go about reporting on such stories and how the details can help communities affect change.

While discussing immigration and the border wall, students learned that newspaper reporting helps readers understand the where political leaders fall on the issue. That information will help voters decide whether or not to support the congressional representatives and the president, they said.

“I didn’t think the news was important ... until today,” Riggins said.

Many of the students said learn about current events when a friend or a social media “influencer” posts on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. 

Influencers can be biased, said Eviana Nieves, 16, a junior. “They make people believe what they believe.”

Professional journalists have to work to verify and attribute information they report, the students learned, increasing the reliability of their reports. 

Students learned that journalism is not cost free, and the business of running websites and printing newspapers is supported by advertisement and subscriptions.

They said depending on the story they would be willing to pay for digital content, particularly if it was as easy as hitting a button or two.

That said, Tashmali Canales, 16, said some people still appreciate reading the printed version of the paper.

“Muchas personas no tiene telefono,” she said in Spanish, reminding the group than not everyone uses a phone.

Brianna Hardy, who served as a reporter for one of three breakout groups after the tour, asked her classmates what the paper provides that makes it valuable to the community.

The students cited crime reports, political happenings, local business openings, festivals and entertainment news and local volunteer efforts.

The students also noted they would like to see more coverage of girls sports and sports in general beyond football and basketball.

“No one writes about volleyball or swimming,” classmate Emily Christian said.

Senior Madison Deanes said journalism is something that people tend to take for granted.

“I don't think people would really understand the importance of it until it were to disappear,” she said.

“Journalism allows for the community to be educated about what is going on,” sophomore Breyana Paterson said. “It allows for people to form their own perspectives about the news.”

Staffers at the Reflector worked with the group to help them report on their visit and produce this story for online and print editions. Students were encouraged to post about their visit in real time on social media, and the Reflector staff documented the experience with them.

The students are among more than 2,700 middle and high school students visiting employers across Pitt County this week as part of the Grow Local  initiative.

Developed in conjunction with NC Students@Work Month, is designed to create and unveil career interests, grow the talent pipeline, and connect local businesses to future employees.

More than 100 businesses and institutions are participating in the effort along with Pitt County Schools, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County and the Pitt County Education Foundation.

From tours of local businesses, conversations with business leaders and hands-on activities, students will have a first-hand experience with a day in the life of an employee in a field relevant to curriculum they are studying in their class, Chamber President Kate Teel said.

The event began with students from 18 classes varying in size from 16 to 30 students heading out for sessions at ECU, Greenville Utilities, Vidant Medical Center, the Hilton, Greenville Convention Center, Pitt Community College and The Daily Reflector.

Students represented Ayden-Grifton, J.H. Rose, South Central and D.H. Conley high schools and Wellcome Middle School.

Many participants gathered at 9 a.m. at Hyster Yale for a kick-off event with Teel, Pitt County Schools Superintendent Ethan Lenker and others. Hyster Yale, a lift truck manufacturer, will be hosting students from the Foundations of Engineering class at Rose.

More schools and employers will be joining the program to participate throughout the week. On Tuesday, the Reflector will host students from North Pitt High School.

To find out more about Grow Local, visit www.greenvillenc.org/growlocal. Check out Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #ReflectorFalcons and #ReflectorEducates.

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