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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK: Showing the youth thrills of journalism

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 at 8:52 am

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Last week I had the pleasure of making a presentation to Coffee County Middle School’s seventh grade English classes about how research is used in writing and how it pertains to my job on a daily basis.

Talk about nervous. Holly told me to “be funny and not put the kids to sleep.”

Easier said than done, right? I know that for some people writing just is not that thrilling. There are days when it isn’t for me, either. I also knew going in that doing something is one thing … talking about it is completely different.

So I picked through what the students were learning in class, did a lot of PowerPoint Google searches and patched something together (This project was good for my non-existent PowerPoint skills).

I think my brightest spot of the day and the attention holder was definitely the mini Snicker bars I kept in my pocket for those who participated in my trivia and tried to answer questions. And for the record, I only found one kid dozing off. But he was asleep before I even started talking.

I did break out a few examples of some stories the Times has reported on over the years that have made a difference in the community. In the middle of doing these presentations (four class periods worth) I found myself re-energized for what I do. Sometimes it can become a long, monotonous process, especially when the news is slow. But as I clicked through my samples and walked the students through some of our previous articles that were important reports, I remembered why I do what I do. I was able to show them how important research is to writing – especially when reporting quality, trustworthy news. (Of course I’ve seen what poor journalism looks like, too. It’s not too hard to find some.)

I was rewarded with a folder full of thank-you letters the next day and it is a good feeling to read through them and see that some kids, seventh-grade kids, are actually going to take the time out of their day to find the Manchester T imes online and find us on Facebook to keep up. Some even wrote that they hoped to pursue a career in journalism someday.

I think it’s certainly good for the future of journalism to get young people involved. It was certainly good for me to be involved with them.


-Josh Peterson is the editor of the Manchester Times. He has won TPA awards for his writing and photography. He can be reached by email at or by telephone at 931-728-7577 ext. 105. Follow him on Twitter @joshpeterson29