Why Is Journalism Important To My Country?

What is Journalism?

NOTE: I have been blessed with an opportunity to teach a Mixed Media Journalism class at my middle school. We are currently waiting for a video camera to arrive, so until that happens, I have been teaching students about the importance of journalism to them academically, and its importance to the country in which we live.

Students today have no idea what journalism is. While there are exceptions, most students think of crusty old people writing or talking about stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with them. Put our kids in a journalism class, and the first thing they want is a schedule change.


To combat student (and often parent) misconceptions, we must open our eyes to the facts.

Start by asking students to work together in groups to define:

  • Integrity
  • Sensationalism
  • Grassroots
  • Spin
  • Journalism
  • Bias
  • Investigative

Spend some time discussing how our government is setup: The three branches of government, the two major political parties and their symbolism, and how moneyed interests exert influence through lobbying. Then show the following video.


Provide students with the attached discussion questions afterwards. You can use them to lead a class discussion, or divide the class into groups to discuss the questions, then share with each other as a class.

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Students may suggest the purpose of journalism is to entertain, to let them know about what celebrities are doing, or what the latest terrorists have destroyed.

But journalism is more than that. So show them the following video to help them understand the importance and purpose of journalism:

You can give them this quiz afterwards, or use it as guided notes during the video:

[prettyfilelink size=”7 kB” src=”https://www.rethinkela.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/WhyIsJournalismImportantquiz.docx” type=”doc”]Why Is Journalism Important?[/prettyfilelink]


  • Ask students to read Columbia Journalism Review’s answers to the question, “What is journalism for?” The CJR asked this question of dozens of people and then published the result.
  • Ask students to read “The Purpose of a Free Press.” Divide the article into sections, which different students can read, either individually, or as a group. Ask each student/group to summarize what they have read, then share their findings to the class. Discuss their findings.


About the author 

Michelle Boyd Waters, M.Ed.

I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma student working on my doctorate in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum with an concentration in English Education and co-Editor of the Oklahoma English Journal. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify students' voices and choices.

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