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High school journalism at Cerritos

April 23, 2007

Journalism students from 26 high schools from around southern California convened at Cerritos College yesterday for the annual Write-Off competition of the Southern California Journalism Education Association. This was probably the sixth or seventh time in the last 10 years that Cerritos has hosted the event.

Great folks all, but it is a shame Cerritos will not benefit directly from the event. First of all, no high schools in the Cerritos service area participate in SCJEA. They should, but they don’t. And SCJEA’s outreach program is pretty much non-existent; pretty much only the same schools participate in the Write-Offs each year.

Not that it would matter too much. Few students who participated in yesterday’s Write-Offs will end up at community colleges. There is too much emphasis on University of California as the destination point of high school journalism students. Forget that anyone wanting to major in journalism cannot do so, except for the graduate program at Berkeley and a new major in Literary Journalism (writing books) at Irvine. None of the other UC campuses has the major. Students can get a good grounding in journalism at most California community colleges, but community colleges get no respect.

While students were waiting around yesterday to find out the results of the day’s competitions, I played a video that promotes community college journalism. Few students even bothered to even look the direction of the screen, let alone pay attention.

In faculty meetings, when the subject of college came up, it was all about making high schools courses acceptable to the UCs.

SCJEA is happy to use community college help for its Write-Offs, but it does not expect its students to take other advantage of community colleges. There must be something wrong if they have to resort to going to a community college for the first two years of their college educations.

Something about that is just not right.

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