Student Journalism Thrives on the Westside

By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter

There’s a level of controlled chaos that accompanies any good newsroom as deadline approaches.

Photographers duck in and out of the room on assignment, reporters pound away at their stories and the editor-in-chief anxiously wonders if they have enough copy to fill page three.

At Palisades Charter High School, history teacher David Carini’s classroom plays host to such editorial din, brimming with the energy of the roughly 40 young journalists who bring Tideline, Pali’s student newspaper, to life.

Just down Sunset Boulevard at the Archer School for Girls, a similar scene plays out at the newsroom of The Oracle, school’s student-run news site.

They represent the cutting edge of high school journalism: hands-on classes that allow students to handle every aspect of the editorial process, from reporting to editing to laying out user-friendly websites.

Perhaps most importantly, they provide an unadulterated outlet for the thoughts of the student body.

“Ultimately The Oracle is the student voice,” Editor-in-Chief Cybele Zhang told the Palisadian-Post. “It’s what students want their friends and peers to hear.”

And student-journalists have a lot to say.

Tideline Editors Alicia Abramson and Peter Jebsen were both drawn to Pali High’s journalism program as opinion writers, citing their particular interest in issues of social activism, religion and government.

Tideline staff hard at work
Photo courtesy of David Carini

But they also said they’ve learned the value of making sure they can tie those lofty issues back to the small community that they serve.

“We’re definitely making sure the stories appeal to our local audience,” Abramson told the Post.

For example, Tideline often seeks out students who are directly affected by “big picture” issues, and then highlights their experiences and insights. That brings a broader story to the campus level, Abramson explained.

The focus on community journalism is a point of emphasis for Carini, who will draw on his history as a freelance journalist (his work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and on NPR) in his first year as Tideline’s faculty advisor.

“The students need to feel like their concerns and their voices are represented,” he told the Post. “I want [reporters] to grow as writers but also to grow as community members.”

Zhang said The Oracle has a similar focus.

In her first year as editor-in-chief, she’ll be broadening the publication’s voice by soliciting more letters to the editor, inviting teachers to contribute and allowing non-staff writers to submit stories as “correspondents.”

At both The Oracle and Tideline, staff members said they’re eager to represent their campus’ unique perspectives online and in print.

The Westside’s next wave of journalists is already well on its way.