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Eastchester High School Students Train To Become Journalists & Educated Consumers of Media

Students in Robert Heinemann’s 21st Century Journalism class are discovering the basics of sound journalism and how the world in which we live today affects the craft.

This is the second year that Eastchester High School has offered the class taught by Heinemann, who worked as a journalist and videographer for Patch Media and MSG Varsity for eight years. The course focuses on research, writing and the role technology plays in reporting.

The class reviews written reports and video from local, national and international news sources as well as social media to spark discussion.

“I jumped at the chance to teach this elective. Journalism is an interesting medium through which we can reinforce the standards and skills taught in English classes,” said Heinemann. “It also allows for direct connections to real-world situations and allows students to analyze things as they unfold.”

Students recently completed two digital portfolios reflecting topics of their interest. The sophomores and juniors have reported on local government, academics and sports.  Each project includes five articles with photographs.

Ava Hunn chose Social Isolationism in College and reviewed college websites and their plans during the pandemic for source material. She also interviewed her sister and friends, who are college students.

One of the essential lessons Ava learned from the class is the concept of reliable sources. “There is a bias in sources where you would think there isn’t,” said Ava. “This class has made me think more critically.”

Classmate Dennis Dahaner also wrote about learning during COVID-19 and focused on the Eastchester School District.   Dennis interviewed students learning in both the hybrid and remote models to write a balanced story. He said he discovered that many factors come into play when writing a good story, such as adding new content and information.

Heinemann wants the students to understand and embrace journalism fundamentals and use this knowledge to impart truthful information.

“Students today are bombarded by various forms of media on their phones and computers. Not every student who takes this course is expected to go on to pursue a career in journalism, but it’s my goal to ensure that they will be media literate and know how to evaluate the quality of the news they encounter.”