The KO News serves as a campus news medium and a forum for the open expression of students and faculty opinion. Students are provided the opportunity to gain experience in journalistic writing. Click here for the latest edition of the KO News.
THE LARGER MISSION OF KO NEWS
As I write this, it’s Sunday morning, and down the hall the editors of the KO News – juniors and seniors in T-shirts, baseball caps, shorts and blue jeans – are gathered around computers as they write, edit and lay out stories for the next issue of the school newspaper. Shouted questions fly through the air: “How long is the girls’ soccer story?” … “How do you spell ‘Hewett’?” … “Why can’t these writers learn to use quotations?” … “Who wants to get some lunch?”
Many professional journalists, even those at the highest level of the craft, will tell you that the most fun they’ve ever had was working for their high school papers. There are many reasons for this, of course – the thrill of learning a craft and practicing it for the first time, the camaraderie of working with close friends, the satisfaction of seeing the collective efforts of writers, editors, photographers, designers and cartoonists come together in a finished product.
But what novice journalists relish most is having a voice – finding compelling stories, exposing problems, proposing solutions and expressing opinions that really make a difference in their lives and in the life of the school. For many students, the school newspaper represents their first real opportunity to take public stands on important issues, find their voices, expose themselves to widespread judgment of their peers and see their ideas, decisions and opinions influence real events.
Some school newspapers are sanitized and closely censored, allowing students to report only happy news that makes everything at the school look rosy. Not ours. The KO News is a real newspaper that examines issues of concern to students, exposes problems at the School and proposes solutions to those problems. In the process, it trains student journalists to be accurate, fair and balanced as they seek to inform, persuade and entertain.
Because the writers and editors of the KO News are learning the craft, they inevitably make mistakes. When they do, teachers, parents, coaches, administrators and other students let them know about it. Given such honest feedback, the members of the newspaper staff seek to learn from their mistakes and do a better job next time. That’s part of the healthy process that makes students better journalists.
During my 22-year tenure as advisor to the KO News, and during the long tenure of my predecessor, Warren Baird, the school administration has generously and admirably given the KO News the freedom and the resources to serve as a forum for truth, lively debate and problem solving. Though we’ve tried the patience and forgiveness of many a head of school, each school leader has summoned the wisdom and courage to see past the immediate blunders and mix-ups to the newspaper’s larger educational and journalistic mission.
Kingswood Oxford is a lively, exciting and dynamic community where issues are aired, debated and resolved. My hope is that the KO News will continue to reflect that vibrancy and continue to make a significant difference in the lives of those who read it – and of those kids in T-shirts hunched over computers down the hall.