Young minds and cold seats at Vaughan Road

Cold. That is the best way to describe my guest speaking experience at Vaughan Road Academy today, not because of the students but because of a repaired furnace trying to kick back into gear. I have a feeling the furnace will be up and running again…sometime in August- have fun kids!

I got the chance to talk at Vaughan thanks to “Miss B” my friend and teacher there. Getting the chance to talk shop about the the art of reporting is always a fun assignment for me. Also, any chance to talk about general media with keen young minds and future media consumers and producers is insightful.

I had no illusions of grandeur for my talks, the audience were high school students with tonnes on their plate. Also, I remember being the kid at the back of the class who considered a guest speaker a “day off for me”, so I had realistic expectations.

 I applied my “one-thirds” formula to the whole event. I figured one-third would not pay attention even if I was on their desk, doing a handstand and talking about the inverted pyramid . Another third would be moderately interested and and the last third would actually pay attention, may be ask  a question or at least flash a glazed look my way.

Besides the technical aspects of writing a story, from what is a lead (lede) to using quotes to move a story along, the most enjoyable part of the day for little ole me, were the questions floated my way. The Vaughan kids were great, some were already oozing potential to be whatever they wish to be. 

The fact high school students in grades 9 and 10 realize what bias is and have a healthy skepticism about media was refreshing. An active engagement in the news cycle around them was easily evident. Questions about how to find a story, developing sources and going on and off the record were music to my ears.

A highlight was the revelation that students are still reading newspapers and not just depending on the Internet for information. All hope is not lost my fellow ink-stained wretches. Let’s keep figuring out how to make relevant news interesting and worth reading because our future leaders, readers, subscribers and reporters are reading, watching and breaking down the words we pen to paper.

Thanks to all the kids at Vaughan Road Academy for your time and patience. Check out the media movies in the handout I provided- you may just like them. Keep reading and writing for yourself and never stop questioning anything you see in the news.

One last thing, keep Miss B on her toes because you know she will keep you on yours.


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