Nan Austin

July 3, 2013

On Campus: Taken to school by the kids

Summer school journalism class gets to interview the reporter.

On Campus

The latest on local schools and education

CERES — Ah, the taste of my own medicine. Kids at Walter White Elementary got to turn the tables this week and interview me.

Peppered with questions from 46 kids, ages 9 to 12, in the Ceres Summer GATE Academy newspaper class, I tried to give them an honest and quotable picture of newsroom life. 

-- Do you write a lot of stories? Lots. It’s like having two term papers due every day. 

-- Do you meet famous people? Not often.

-- What’s your work schedule? Some days I start early. Some days I stay late. And every day’s plan gets completely reinvented at least twice. Usually we work separately, but when disaster strikes and on election nights we all pitch in and work as a team.

-- Do you make lots of money? Television personalities, yes. Newspaper reporters, not really.

-- Have you ever met anybody famous? Yes, but not many.

-- Why did you want to be a journalist? Because it’s a job that really matters. Taxpayers need to know where their money goes. Voters need to understand the issues. People need information they may not even know is out there. Plus, my grandfather was a publisher and my mom was a city beat reporter — there’s ink in my blood.

-- Name some famous people you’ve met. Hmmmm.

-- Do you like your job? I love it.

Teachers Alissa Martin and Mary Ramer had the kids interview me, then I interviewed them.

“After hearing all this, do you still want to be a journalist?” I asked. Yes, they said.

“I like to learn a lot of new things,” said Sara Kraft, 11.

“It sounds like a lot of fun,” said Trent Lessley, 12.

“Sometimes you get to meet important people,” said Cruz Fee, 9. Hmmmm.

“I want to be a copy editor,” said Gurmenjit  Bahia, 11. “I like to check other people’s work. I like to fix mistakes.” She’ll go far.

I asked them what surprised them about journalism.

“It takes a lot of time,” said Courtney Ford, 12.

“It takes teamwork,” said Isabel  Diazdeleon, 12.

Then I asked them how they got their news. 

While all but eight students get a daily newspaper at home, only 14 of them read it. Favorite sections: sports and comics. While all but three had Internet access, few used news websites. 

One gets news about science and technology from a smart phone app. Others got news through their gaming consoles. Trent said he gets texts from friends about what’s up in school. Viviana Rodrigues, 11, said she gets her news from the Disney Channel Friends for Change program.

A decade from now, when the first of these aspiring journalists hit print, they’ll be using technology not even tweeted about yet. I don’t know what print will look like by then, but I hope they love it, too.

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