Florida Journalism Program Gives Students Reason to Stay in School

BY Mike Fritz  May 17, 2012 at 1:55 PM EST

On Wednesday’s NewsHour we introduced you to De’Qonton Davis, an eighth grader from St. Petersburg, Fla.

Davis and his classmates at John Hopkins Middle School examined how violence affects students’ ability to learn. They produced a video as part of a communication magnet program — known as Journeys in Journalism — in the Pinellas County School District.

The end result was a striking and honest look at the problems inside their school. It was produced in conjunction with the NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs project and in partnership with local PBS station WEDU in Tampa, Fla.

Over the course of reporting this story, the NewsHour also met many other students going through the Journeys in Journalism (K-12) program, including Leon Tomlinson, a photographer and junior at Lakewood High School.

Tomlinson joined Journeys in Journalism in third grade and said that the program was one of the main reasons he now excels in the classroom.

“I didn’t like school when I was growing up,” Tomlinson said. “And then when I got into journalism I really just loved coming to school to get to use a camera.”

Both Tomlinson and Davis have interned in the photography department at the Tampa Bay Times, which is a sponsor and provides logistical support for the program.

Davis hopes President Obama sees his report on violence in his school someday.

And Tomlinson said he plans to go to college, where he hopes to play soccer and hone his skills as a photojournalist. “I see myself playing [Major League Soccer] and then having a side job as a freelance photographer for like … the New York Times or some place like that.”

View all of the American Graduate reports.