Getting the Scoop

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I met Jane at an event where she was reporting for a local newspaper. She stopped to chat about Mr. Jenkins, the high school journalism teacher who ignited her passion for getting to the heart of a story.

I was a shy kid in high school. I took journalism because I liked to write, but I underestimated how much it involved talking to strangers. Mr. Jenkins had little sympathy or patience for my social anxiety. He always reminded me that I had to push past discomfort in pursuit of a story. After I completed an interview, he would ask, “Who do you need to talk to next?” He encouraged me to track down the right sources, not just the convenient sources.

When a school policy about outside lunch seating was suddenly changed, Mr. Jenkins assigned the story to me. I started with the principal who said the decision was made due to teachers’ concerns, but the principal wouldn’t elaborate. I talked to some teachers who wanted to be off the record but suggested that the dean was behind the new policy. The dean avoided me for a few days, until I decided to wait outside his office until he would see me. I told the dean what the teachers said, and asked about his part in the decision to close the outdoor lunch area. He finally admitted that he hated supervising outside lunch which led to the policy change. My persistence paid off, and I got to the truth.

After I wrote the story, Mr. Jenkins carefully edited it. He reminded me that a skilled journalist doesn’t just report a string of facts; she crafts the story in a way that engages the reader. He also helped me ensure that my facts were accurate and verified because trust is an essential part of quality reporting.

Mr. Jenkins was just the right mix of toughness and encouragement. I still remember the wisdom he shared. He said that great stories are born of tenacity, not luck. He said that great journalists stay curious and hungry. He advised me to never operate from fear or favoritism, but to always work for the public interest. Those lessons have served me well.

Jane’s story caused me to reflect on the power of perseverance. When students are encouraged to tackle an uncomfortable task and push on despite obstacles, they experience the satisfaction of accomplishment. When students attribute that accomplishment to their tenacity rather than luck, they develop a growth mindset. When did a teacher encourage you to persevere? Share in the comments below.


Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-
Julie

 

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