Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rick Rodriguez diversifies our portfolio

Mr. Rodriguez was a great start to the morning today.  He appeared on the surface to be just a regular guy in a polo shirt, but as the saying goes, "still waters run deep."  I really felt his main message--about not just diversity of coverage and representation, but diversity of THOUGHT being a rare commodity in today's news media.  It's true that even in a relatively homogenous school, hearing from more voices, transcending the cliques, is really the key to breaking down barriers, and, well, doing more than just reporting.  A genuine willingness to listen, to engage, and earn the trust of people and cultures (or sub-cultures) that otherwise might be overlooked or ignored is something more than just "doing the newspaper." It really is (to paraphrase Rodriguez) educating people rather than merely informing them. To me this is the loftiest and most noble of goals for journalism.

To get a bit political, Rodriguez also specifically made the point that the news media CAN be an agent for reducing polarization of society, if we use it to seek out as many voices as we can.  It is only through those multiple voices that we can really build community and understanding--rather than fostering division by simply affirming one culture or creed over others.

Rodriguez did point out that it takes a lot of work, and time invested, to build trust.

To get a bit personal, Rodriguez made me rethink a battle I've been having with my guidance department. They scheduled a young man for Journalism next year that is a Trouble Maker (even more than me, if you can imagine). He was the bane of my 6th period English class his freshman year--even the other kids cheered when he was absent--and when he started telling me this year that he was going to sign up for Journalism, I got the feeling it was just to mess with me. He is an intelligent young man, he just thinks every class period is being taped for the Quincell Show. But maybe he deserves a second chance. Maybe he'd be a good journalist, with the right motivation, and maybe he'll behave differently if I blindside him and tell him I believe in his potential.

Or maybe I'm nuts for even considering that...maybe I'll be throwing him out the first week when I have to battle him for control of the room. But just maybe he needs to be there, since the rest of the roster is 90 percent timid white girls...some of them sure are going to be telling me "I hate you!" on the first day when they see him in the room.  I don't know if I have what it takes to create the atmosphere that they all need to flourish together.  It sure would be a lot easier not to have to come quite so far out of my comfort zone.

Zach Anderson
Indian River HS - Philadelphia, NY


  1. I really hope you get to work with him Zach!Most of my students were the bane in their previous classes (if they bothered to attend), and actually, I find them quite exceptional. I think you might create great things with this guy!!!

  2. Zach, you are not nuts. This is your chance to show this kid you won't be the one to turn your back on him for his behavior.

    Good luck, if there is anyone who can help this kid take his actions and make them work to their advantage it'd be you.

    Michelle Evenson
    Eden Prairie High School
    minneapolis, Mn

  3. You can do it! One of my hardest working students was once my biggest trouble-maker. But he needed a direction, and I needed to figure out what that was. Maybe for this kid it's journalism.

    Meghan Brannon-Reese
    Houston, TX