A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a story about a public relations kerfuffle involving the Minneapolis Parents Forum and I got a little bit of a talking to from a school administrator about why I was interested in the story. It’s something I encounter quite often actually. Why can’t I write positive stories? Why do I have to always focus on the negative?
I take issue with the premise that I never write positive school stories. It’s simply not true. Look, here’s a positive story I wrote about South High kids learning about poetry and spoken word in an awesome after school program.
Besides, as a South High alum myself, I’m out here representing every day for the values of a Minneapolis Public Schools education every day. See, kids? You too can have a lucrative career as a freelance journalist.
The article I wrote this week involves students at Henry High School lobbying to save their school’s Hmong Literacy and Languages class, which for the first two weeks of school didn’t have a teacher. There are some questions that remain on the issue, but I think ultimately it is a positive story, if you look at it from the perspective of the students who are learning valuable leadership skills by advocating for something that was important to their community. These young people addressed the school board, thanking them for their work to fix the problem, and pressuring them to look into what led to the problem.
I guess I just don’t really believe in labeling a story as negative or positive. When you take a topic as a whole (in this case, schools in Minneapolis), the real story can only be found when you take into account the whole picture — the great programs that are really working for kids, the issues that are problematic within the school system, and how parents and educators and administrators are working together, or not working together. As journalists look at one aspect or another, we help show a bit more about what’s working and what’s not working and, even as we continue coverage, things are constantly changing and getting better in some respects and some worse in others.
I’m not trying to make anybody look bad. I’m not trying to sabotage the efforts to strengthen our school system. TC Daily Planet covers issues that are of interest to parents and the community as a whole in hopes, I think, of helping people figure out how to make it better.