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Column: Where are all the journalists?

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After attending a career fair largely geared at high school students last week at M State - Fergus Falls, I walked away a bit perplexed.

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I was there to answer questions about print journalism. To be honest, I thought I was going to be a smash hit.

I wasn't.

Preparing for the day, I put myself in the shoes of my former self - high school Trisha, minus the bangs and braces.

Had you set me loose at a career fair, I likely would have made a mad dash to the journalism table, equipped with plenty of questions about what I should do in preparation for entering the 'journo' world one day. And at that time, I don't think I would have been the only one.

In high school, I had the opportunity to take journalism class and work on the high school newspaper. It was an absolute blast, and I learned a lot. I had a teacher who cared, made us read "All The President's Men," and encouraged those of us who considered it to be a field of choice.

So you can see why I was a bit concerned last Wednesday as student-by-student approached my table out of minor interest (or obligation), with not one possessing any real ambition to pursue the career.

Not one.

I understand high school students don't have it all figured out, and I truly believe they don't have to. But I at least expected to meet one eager, young student with their eyes set on changing the world through their pen (that's how I felt at that age). Don't these students watch movies? You have to admit; reporters are a movie character favorite. They may not always be small town editors, but you get the idea.

Throughout the day, when explaining to students what I do, exactly, I also began to ask whether any of their schools had student-run newspapers.

Not one.

For those who say that's because newspapers are dead, I say, "Rubbish."

They're not dead. The mode of delivering news may evolve, but the process of gathering news, shedding light on issues, giving a voice to the voiceless and serving as a government watchdog will not change - at least I hope not.

High school newspapers provide opportunities for students to begin practicing those skills, and understanding the importance of such practices.

It's truly a shame to see high school newspapers - in any form - leave the schools, most often due to budget cuts.

That's the case at my old high school in Duluth. The Denfeld Criterion is no longer, and that's too bad.

I'm speculating this to be the case for many high schools throughout the state and nation. And if what I saw Wednesday is any indication, it's having an effect on those who the profession could benefit from, but now, will likely never know.

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