Home Breaking News The significance of student journalism in a world of misinformation

The significance of student journalism in a world of misinformation

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21st century newspaper. Photo by George Hodan
21st century newspaper. Photo by George Hodan

The primary responsibility of a journalist is to provide the public with accurate information on current events, and hold those in positions of authority accountable for their actions if needed.

The dissemination of accurate information to the public is a crucial cornerstone of a civilized society, spanning various fields such as politics, sports, entertainment and weather. In today’s digital age, the role of individuals and institutions in providing reliable reporting is increasingly vital, as the rapid spread of misinformation and propaganda through online channels poses a significant problem. 

The prevalence of unchecked facts, half-truths and outright lies has become increasingly common in modern newsrooms and internet forums. Everywhere you turn, someone is trying to promote their own bias perspectives.

We’re constantly bombarded with sensationalized content, clickbait headlines and insignificant news stories. It’s understandable that people might be seeking a sense of authenticity as a result. 

This is where the impact of student journalism, independent and grassroots media becomes significant. 

“Cuesta’s journalism program plays a crucial role in holding institutions accountable,” said Morgan Ccecs, Editor-in-Chief for The Cuestonian. “By attending school board meetings each month and investigating topics relevant to our school, we shed light on administrative decisions, policies, and issues affecting our personal lives.” 

Ensuring the protection of free speech and the proper recognition and esteem for writers, reporters, and journalists in the field are crucial, not only from the general public but also from academic institutions. 

Unfortunately, some universities haven’t gotten the message. 

“UNC and other public universities in North Carolina will no longer award distinguished professorships to faculty in the humanities,” wrote NPR Correspondent David Gura, in a Threads post about the UNC shakeup. “The honors ‘will now only be given in STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields.’” 

While enrollment in liberal arts disciplines is dropping, now is not the time for universities and colleges to succumb to an enrollment popularity contest. Especially considering the importance of journalism in our free democratic society, and the fact that students who graduate with a degree in a humanities program outearn people who don’t have a college degree in every U.S. state.

In West Virginia for example, a state where its largest traditional university, West Virginia University, cut all its foreign language degree programs (among many liberal arts disciplines) because of enrollment issues, the state simultaneously saw students with Humanities degrees earn a median income of $56,841, 44% higher than an individual with just a high school degree.

Making sure that humanities departments, and the professors who make them run smoothly, get the support and funding they need is crucial if we want a well-rounded population of students entering the workforce. 

Student with camera. Photo by Thomas Hawk
Student with camera. Photo by Thomas Hawk

Cultivating a student body capable of both emulating professional journalism, and learning from the world of media outside the confines of a school’s campus, is critical if we want to raise the next generation of journalists. 

At Cuesta, we’re doing our part. 

“In a generation of rapidly evolving media, our program stands as a light of hope, representing the future of news reporting,” Ccecs said. “At Cuesta College, our platform not only empowers young minds to express their opinions, but also equips them with skills that extend far beyond a classroom.”

We believe that by adhering to the highest standards of journalistic integrity, we can set an example for the next wave of aspiring media professionals who are interested in reporting the news as a profession. 

Not only that, we encourage students to engage in the world of news production by making them active members of our student publication here at the school. 

Every student that signs up for the program is assigned an editorial role. Geared towards each student’s individual interests, they pick and write news articles that both inform the public about events in the community and reflect their own unique journey. 

Journalism is not only important to a democracy, but as a student and aspiring journalist, if Cuesta were to remove the journalism department, it would inhibit my professional development and prolong my success as a student,” said Nick Mireles, The Cuestonian’s Surf Editor.

Other Cuestonian staff members echoed similar sentiments.

“I have tried out so many different options for my career path, and I haven’t found anything close to the belonging I feel within the Journalism degree path and The Cuestonian,” said Alena Stanley, The Cuestonian’s Fashion Editor. “Not only is it an honor to be a voice for my fellow students and faculty at Cuesta College, but it is an absolute blast being a part of something bigger than myself. I have so much fun working with the editors and Cyrus, whether it’s finding stories to write about, conducting research, or doing interviews.”

Sports is a popular subject in media as well as a cherished past-time for many Americans, and we carry that tradition here at The Cuestonian.

“I never knew what I wanted to do when it came to school and careers but since joining the journalism program this past year I finally feel like I found what I’m supposed to be doing,” said Cait Flanagan, The Cuestonia’s Sports Editor and a player on the school’s soccer team.  “I’ve found the ability to connect with myself from connecting with others, and for that I’m so grateful for the journalism programs I’ve partaken in.” 

Our students are full time journalists in this program. Bearing the responsibility of coming up with original story ideas, researching, interviewing, and writing their own columns for the paper, we give each person the chance to learn and put into practice what it takes to work in the industry. 

In doing so, we hope not only to provide the community with a reliable, vetted news source; we hope to give our students the tools necessary to thrive in their future careers. 

“A journalism major covers a variety of information that you can use in a journalism career or a related field.” said Sheryl Grey, a contributor for Forbes. “On a basic level, journalism programs teach you how to investigate, write, and report news stories. But a journalism major doesn’t stop there. Depending on the courses you take, you can learn skills that help you branch out into many different fields. When you earn a journalism degree, you develop a deep understanding of communication with the media and the public, which is essential for a variety of career paths.” 

A degree in journalism can set you up for an exciting career path. Whether it’s writing, reporting, or communications in media, you’re set for success in a variety of different fields. 

Take it from Cuesta alumni, and former Editor-in-Chief of The Cuestonian, 23ABC’s Ava Kershner

“The Cuesta College Journalism program made me realize that I wanted to go into the field of journalism,” Kershner said. “I did not know I was remotely interested until my first news writing class and getting involved with The Cuestonian. The Journalism program at Cuesta laid the foundation for my writing and reporting skills – skills that I now use everyday as a full time professional TV journalist. It inspired me to take chances, become Editor-in-Chief, transfer to a university, and get a job before I even graduated.”

Kershner commented on the importance of student journalism.

“I recently covered the expansion of the journalism program at Cal State University Bakersfield,” Kershner said. “I saw first-hand what the investment into journalism the university did meant to the students. One quote the Editor-in-Chief of the student newspaper told me was, ‘You know, as student journalists, we are the voice for our students on our campus, and I think just being able to be a voice for students and being able to hold people on our campus accountable – that’s a super important part. That’s a super important part for democracy.’”

The demand for journalists and journalism programs still remains. And there are plenty of success stories to prove its efficacy. 

At Cuesta, we want our students to know that they have a safe place to explore new opportunities in the world of journalism and media production. 

Providing that space is something we will continue to strive for.