Rockbridge Academy Blog
The Rockbridge Reporter—A Student-Run Newspaper
Thomas Jefferson readily preferred a newspaper without the government than the government without a newspaper. Alexander Graham Bell declared the greatest inventors were those who write the newspaper. Presidents and many other notable figures such as George Orwell completely disregarded the newspaper, assuming it was not to be trusted.
With all these ideas on newspapers circulating throughout the country, one may misunderstand the true value of a newspaper. People now don’t know whether to listen to everything the news feeds them, take it with a grain of salt, or throw it in the recycling bin without a glance. People could take the wrong side on important issues simply because one writer presented a fallacious yet persuasive argument or because they refuse to read any article which might actually provide concrete data.
I decided to begin a newspaper the student body can trust; a newspaper that does not satirize our school, yet informs the readers; a place to discuss, learn, and maturely disagree. Although we can’t tackle all the world-wide issues in our small school newspaper, we can still foster meaningful discussions, critical thinking, and responsible reporting.
Will we use this newspaper to manipulate the student body into conforming to our standards? Or keep our “government” in check? No. I hope to find a balance between publishing anything we want and filtering the content in such a way that we avoid real-world problems which we ought to learn to discuss.
In order to maintain this balance, the students run and fund the newspaper. Along with my editor’s board, we write (or enlist other students to write) articles which foster a student’s understanding on different topics or ideas. Through this newspaper, students will use the skills they learn in class and apply them. They will experience real-life discussions outside of a classroom environment. Additionally, because it is student-run, the students will learn to exercise good judgment and prudence as they decide what to publish.
Unlike many school newspapers today, we do not publish our newspapers on the website or online. Instead, we send our newspaper to a printer in order to have hard copies. I think paper copies give the newspaper a certain kind of value and increase the likelihood of someone reading it. Today, we can access a news story with a few clicks on our phone. A paper newspaper brings the student body outside of the world on their phones and teaches them to interact with important issues that don’t necessarily originate from our electronics. The newspaper adds a communal aspect to a student’s day as they gather around the newspaper, especially since students are not allowed to have their phones out during the school day. Additionally, as many people agreed, a paper newspaper is real and lasting. A paper newspaper distinguishes our school from other schools and the culture around us as everything is going digital. However, because we only provide paper copies, the only way to obtain a newspaper is from our school building. You can find our newspapers dispersed throughout the common hangout areas in our school. In later years we hope to create a subscription plan so that alumni and donors can order a copy.
After getting the newspaper up and running, I interviewed a collection of students who I then appointed to an editorial board. The editorial board plans to expand our content and discuss issues concerning race, pronouns, and abortion. Of course, we will have a balance of both heavy discussions and funny stories or reviews.
In the end, my goal with the newspaper is to give students a responsibility, an opportunity to share and build their worldviews, and a place to learn to maturely disagree. One day, the teenagers attending Rockbridge high school will graduate. I hope this newspaper will teach them to formulate and stand up for their worldviews, yet also respectfully and maturely disagree with those who differ from their beliefs.
Hannah Leeman is a current tenth grader. Through the school newspaper she gets to use her passion for reading and writing. She also loves biking and hiking, especially with friends.