News Literacy

When I read the news or consume any media, I'm always putting the content through a filter. As a journalist, it's important for me to understand the media so I can find the compelling stories that will relate to the needs of my community. By acquiring knowledge and thinking critically, I can create stories that don't just regurgitate the news, but that presents information in a fresh and relevant way. 

Human Trafficking

While the issue of human trafficking has interested me for some time now, I couldn't find a good entry point into the story. There was very little media coverage and fewer connections. One article in The Dallas Morning News (see right), however, featured a local man who had joined an organization that rescued victims of human trafficking. This man, Matt Osborne, turned out to be an alumnus of our school, and I immediately knew we had a story. 

I reached out to Osborne and several other organizations that combat human trafficking and aid victims, but the more I researched, the more I realized I needed to know more to write this story. 

Since there is so little media coverage of this sensitive and controversial issue, I had to read the raw reports from the International Labor Organization (click here). 

But I also wanted to hear from our civic leaders and what they were doing to fight this issue. I attended an educational forum at the George W. Bush Presidential Center hosted by New Friends New Life, an organization that aids victims of human trafficking, and heard from a panel of leaders including FBI Special Agent Deborah Michaels, former Senator Florence Shapiro and Dallas Executive Assistant City Attorney Melissa Miles. 

With background information from all of these sources and an in-depth interview with Osborne, I felt that I had enough information and credibility to tell a compelling and relatable story to my community. 

The catalyst story in the February 16, 2016 issue of The Dallas Morning News.

Online Learning

When I found a Business Insider article ranking Stanford Online High School above our school academically, I had to investigate what this could mean for our school's future.

The article received a lot of attention in our community, with many students posting on social media, proud that our school ranked so high. But upon reading the article, I noticed the surprising trend of online schools ranking highly. Online education was almost non-existent less than ten years ago, and now it was breaking into the top schools in the nation. 

I then related that news story to St. Mark's by exploring what we have done in online education, and the brief answer is that we had tried and failed to implement online learning. So I asked the questions: Why does online learning work some places and not others? How will we learn in the future? 

I talked to experts at Global Online Academy and Stanford Online High School as well as students who had utilized both traditional and online learning methods.