Judge a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting School

Judge Memorial Catholic High School has been named a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab School for the current school year. Just over 70 schools nation-wide have been selected for the 2014-15 program, including only two other Utah schools, Brighton High School and Entrada High Draper Campus.

“We have the opportunity to talk with someone on the PBS NewsHour staff who works with us and give us story ideas to respond to,” said senior Paul Oliver. “There are two types of stories – rapid response stories, much like the Michael Brown, Ferguson story, and long term stories.  The long term story I am working on is about school violence post-Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, and how to address school safety. Journalism and writing are interesting to me so being part of this is a great experience.”
Student Reporting Labs connect students with a network of public broadcasting mentors, an innovative journalism curriculum and an online collaborative space to develop digital media, critical thinking and communication skills while producing original news reports. The program develops curricula and instruction strategies to engage young people in news and current affairs and ensure that the youth voice is a part of the conversation around critical issues facing the nation. Their work is featured on the national Student Reporting Labs website, the NewsHour’s Rundown and broadcast as well as americangraduate.org. 

“It was a little intimidating in the beginning because we interact so frequently with people who are not only older than we are but more professional and polished,” said senior Caroline Pribble.  “Mr. Sloan is awesome and he makes that part easier. And the journalists we work with at PBS have been so helpful. We pitch stories once a week via video-conference and work on our pieces all the time. This has been such a great opportunity, especially since I plan to major in English in college.” 

In one recent story, The NewsHour’s network of Student Reporting Labs explored how the shooting of Michael Brown, Ferguson and the violent aftermath affected teens’ views of justice and race in America. Student reporters found responses ranging from frustration and confusion to a sense of promise for the future. Judge Memorial students who recorded, edited, and produced a series of interviews that appeared on the August 29 PBS NewsHour included David Jenny, Alex Maxwell, Paul Oliver, Anthony Palmer, and Yahya Yussuf. The September 20 PBS NewsHour story on professional athletes featured the work of Ramy Ahmed, Carlos Avila, and Victor Herrera.

“We work on the same stories that PBS reporters do, although from a student’s perspective,” said senior Matt Krump. “One of the other rapid response stories recently has been the question, should pro athletes be considered role models, certainly timely. The long term story I have focused on is the legality of gay marriage in Utah. Since Utah is one of the four states the Supreme Court is considering hearing on this topic, it seems a good time to explore the angles and have a broader discussion.”

Judge Memorial’s Reporting Lab is sponsored by faculty member, Mr. Chris Sloan. Mr. Sloan has taught at Judge Memorial since 1986. He currently teaches AP English Language and Composition, New Media, and Digital Photography. He advises the school newspaper (The Bulldog Press), JMTV, Judge Radio, and is also an editor for the school's web site. He is a teaching consultant for the Wasatch Range Writing Project and he has conducted numerous presentations and workshops for the WRWP, the Utah Writing Project, the National Writing Project, the Journalism Education Association, the Utah Writers and Photographers Clinic, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Utah Council of Teachers of English, and the International Reading Association.  From 1998-2005 he was the Utah state director for the Journalism Education Association.  He has been designated a Master Journalism Educator by the JEA, and also served on their Certification Committee from 2003-2007.  He was designated a Google Certified Teacher after having attended the 2008 Google Teacher Academy in Chicago. His classes have been involved in numerous collaborative projects from the ongoing Youth Voices global classroom, to one-time collaborations like the Global Warming Student Speakout (sponsored by Google), Letters to the Next President (the National Writing Project and Google), Video Your Vote (PBS' NewsHour and YouTube), Mapping Main Street (National Public Radio, and CPB), and currently with KQED's Do Now program. He has written articles that have appeared in publications like Sports Illustrated for Kids, Education Matters, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Journal of Reading, Intermountain Catholic, Utah English Journal, Notes Plus, The Voice, and Black Coffee magazine. He is currently a doctoral candidate (Ph.D.) in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology at Michigan State University, has an M.Ed. from the University of Utah, and a B.A. in English from Carroll College in Helena, Montana. As an undergraduate he also attended the National University of Ireland in Galway, Ireland.

The Reporting Labs were made possible by grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Science Foundation.

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Should pro athletes be considered role models:

Amid Ferguson fallout, students sound off on race in America: