How to Support Youth Journalism and Value Students’ Cultural Perspectives: Exploring Black Journalism, Then and Now

How to Support Youth Journalism and Value Students’ Cultural Perspectives: Exploring Black Journalism, Then and Now

09.27.21
09.27.21

By Hillary Walker 

BIO

Hillary Walker teaches African American Studies at College of Alameda, and currently serves as Director of the Bay Area Writing Project at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. Before teaching college courses, she taught middle and high school history and English in Berkeley and Oakland. She is a lover of history, maps, and plants.

INTRODUCTION

This curriculum tool encourages students to explore a variety of texts, to think critically about authorship and purpose in journalism, and to discuss and write to the guiding questions. Students are then invited to create and publish written and multimodal texts based on stories that matter to them.

In 1944, the New Journal and Guide published “Credo for the Negro Press”, which outlined the collective responsibilities of Black journalists. It begins, “I shall be a crusader…I shall be an advocate… I shall be a herald…I shall be a mirror and a record.” This curriculum tool is guided by three essential questions: What does it mean to carry on the long tradition of Black journalism? How have Black news media covered stories differently than mainstream news outlets? How are young journalists using new forms of media to cover stories?   

COMMUNITY CONNECTION ICEBREAKER

Begin with: “Chicago’s Summer 2020 Through the Eyes of a Young Photographer” – Kierra Frazier (YR.Media, February 2021)

Guiding Questions for Discussion (and Writing): 

  • Whose voices and experiences are captured through Vashon Jordan’s photojournalism?
  • Why does Jordan choose to capture these people and moments? 
  • What narrative is he pushing back against? 
  • Optional: Take a look at some of Jordan’s photography (@vashon_photo on Instagram). Is this different or similar to other images you’ve seen of protests?  What strikes you about his photojournalism? 

ACTIVITY 1: JOURNALISTIC RESPONSIBILITIES & A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE BLACK PRESS IN THE US 

Begin with: “Credo for the Negro Press” 

Guiding Questions for Discussion and Writing:

  • How would you describe this genre of writing? What are some of the text features of the credo? 
  • According to the credo, what responsibilities do Black journalists have in their work? 
  • Choose one of the four areas of responsibility highlighted (crusader, advocate, herald, mirror and record). Which of these do you think is the most important for a journalist? Do any of these seem like they should not be what a journalist aspires to do? 
  • Why do you think this was produced at this particular moment in time (during WWII)? What do you think Black journalists might have been confronting at this time? 

Options for Further Reading: 

National Newspaper Publishers Association

  • What do you learn about the history of Black journalism and newspapers? 
  • How has the credo changed over time? 

Case Study: Chicago Defender

Why the Chicago Defender Still Matters” – Robert Green II (The Nation, July 2019)

Remembering the Chicago Defender” – National Museum of African American History 

  • Why is the Chicago Defender such a significant part of Black journalism and African American history? 
  • What do the photographs from “Remembering the Chicago Defender” add to your understanding of Black journalism and photojournalism? 

ACTIVITY 2: COMPELLING NEWS STORIES & HOW WHO IS COVERING THE STORIES MATTERS

Begin with: “Young Black Journalists Envision a Media Revolution” – Savannah Robinson (YR.Media, July 2021)

Guiding Questions for Discussion and Writing:

  • How are young journalists using new forms of media to cover stories? 
  • What responsibilities do journalists have? 
  • What issues are raised by the young Black journalists? 

Options for reading: 

The deadly race riot ‘aided and abetted’ by The Washington Post a century ago”  – Gillian Brockwell (Washington Post, July 2019)

How Local Media Fueled the Tulsa Massacre — and Covered It Up” – Joseph Torres (Free Press, May 2021)

Guiding Questions for Discussion and Writing:

  • How have Black news media covered stories differently than mainstream news outlets like the Washington Post? What are some examples of the difference?  What are some consequences of the difference? 
  • What responsibilities do journalists have, especially as they relate to race relations? 
  • How does this connect to the credo you read? 

ACTIVITY 3: UNCOVERING THE WHY – HOW BLACK JOURNALISTS BECAME JOURNALISTS

Begin with: Darnella Frazier One of Two Recipients of Pulitzer Prize – Kailyn Rhone (YR.Media, June 2021)

Guiding Questions for Discussion and Writing:

  • What were Frazier and Jackson awarded Pulitzer Prizes for? 
  • How are these young journalists using new forms of media to cover stories? 
  • What issues are raised by the young Black journalists? 

Options for Reading:

Heroines of America’s Black Press” – Reading + Questions – Maya Millett (New York Review of Books, November 2019)

  • What did these “race women” contribute to Black journalism in the 20th Century? 
  • Why did the featured Black women journalists choose the profession? 
  • How did both race and gender impact the stories they covered? 

ACTIVITY 4: WRITING FOR YOU AND OTHERS

Writing Options: 

  1. Respond to one of the guiding questions, using evidence from the texts you’ve read in this lesson series. 
    • What does it mean to carry on the long tradition of Black journalism? 
    • How have Black news media covered stories differently than mainstream news outlets? 
    • How are young journalists using new forms of media to cover stories?  
  2. Think about a story you’ve seen/read that you believe was fairly or unfairly covered. What happened? What are some consequences of the story being covered in this way? 
  3. What is a story that is of interest to you (ideally one that has not yet been covered)?  Why does this story matter? Why does your perspective as a journalist matter?  Write a pitch for a story for YR.Media! 

RELATED RESOURCES

STANDARDS ADDRESSED 

INVITATION FOR ACTION & CONNECTION

Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive email updates when new curriculum tools are published and become a member of our growing teacher network!