Journalist Walter Lippmann recognized it when he said, “A free press is not only a right, and not only a privilege, but an organic necessity in a great society.” The press is essential to life.
Journalism is an obligation to the people; it services the public by providing news and information. Students at Mason High School have been striving to achieve this goal for years, through the print journalism of The Chronicle or the broadcast journalism of MBC. Firsthand, I understand all the time and effort put behind these productions and know how grueling this process can sometimes be, but every second is worth it when I see a student holding a copy of our newspaper.
My purpose here is not to promote The Chronicle. We already have the means to spread our publication in this school. Every month our staff members flood the halls of Mason High School and deftly distribute papers to each classroom–enough for each student to get their fingers on the ink-soaked pages. It’s that simple for us. MBC, on the other hand, is another story.
In previous years, we would flock to our 30-minute-homeroom every month for an MBC broadcast. It was integrated into our schedule; MBC was a part of Mason life and culture. We would watch as young reporters, mic in hand, gleamed with passion and excitement for their story. We would laugh as random students would sputter out ridiculous answer to the “Kids in the Hall” segment. We would cringe at the worst sports plays from “Top 5, Not Top 5”.
We were stripped of this privilege this year. With all the craziness that came with the switch from trimesters to semesters, MBC somehow got swept under the rug. The MBC homerooms that we all looked forward to are now a thing of the past as fifth bell teachers are politely asked to utilize the YouTube link of the broadcast one Wednesday a month. While I truly believe that the staff here is very respectful of the things we do, I also know that there are some teachers who don’t want to surrender their instructional time. Consequently, students lose something that is not only fun and a good break in the week, but also something vital.
I am an avid proponent of the rights of reporters because once again, I understand the obligation of journalists to the people. Without the MBC broadcasts, students aren’t getting receiving something they are entitled to: news. Slowly, I think that the broadcast is going to get phased out the schools completely since it is on YouTube, and that scares me. I’m petrified of the day when the administration tells us that we can “watch it on our own time”. I believe that day will come.
When teachers don’t show the broadcast to their fifth bells, students lose their news, yes, but they also lose the opportunity to feel connected to the Mason community. As Mr. Conner put it, MBC makes our school of 3,500 kids seem smaller. We get to learn about amazing people doing amazing things that we wouldn’t otherwise know about. Sitting among other students in a classroom, we can look at the screen and say, “wow” when we see a sixth grade girl that paints with her mouth because she can’t utilize her other limbs. That effect, that collective awestruck moment in a class of 30, is lost when watching the broadcast alone. That’s not to say that it isn’t still inspirational, but there’s something about being able to turn to the person next to you and discuss the wonders of what you’ve just seen.
Although I am not a part of the MBC team, I have feelings of deep respect and camaraderie with them. I was motivated by the exceptional broadcast this past Wednesday to write this, because it doesn’t feel right that something this good is kept from students. It saddens me that they need to use the hashtag #DemandMBC to get teachers to show the broadcast because it shouldn’t be something that should be demanded; it should be something that is a right. I imagine the outrage I would feel if we were kept from sharing The Chronicle with people and I simply couldn’t come to grips with it.
I know that I am one among many in this school that wants administration to reconsider their decision. Bring back MBC homerooms; it is a vital part of Mason life.