River City Science Academy Innovation’s Michael Malcom-Bjorklund assists a seventh-grade student with his writing this past April. Photo by Mariel Duffy/River City Science Academy Innovation “Students of all ages are exposed to more media, from more sources, than any previous generation,” Palmer said. “A strong journalism program in the school allows to student to produce media. More importantly, students are able to learn how to consume media. They learn to identify bias, separate fact from fiction, and to create a sound argument in support of a belief.” journalism is one of the most versatile careers in any industry. By building a journalism program around the fundamentals of writing, communication and meeting deadlines at the middle- school level, we are authentically preparing students for the real world. Ask students what they want to be when they get older. Does it incorporate thinking, having a voice, being a team player, reading, writing or speaking? Does it require making decisions based on information obtained through research? Well, welcome to the world of journalism. Lastly, middle school programs provide a guiding light, base and direction for some students at a critical time in their emotional, physical and academic careers. Think back to when you were first introduced to journalism. For some, journalism is a calling, a passion, and a lifestyle like no other. These words might sound just as effective speaking to a sophomore in high school or senior in college, but we want to build lifelong learners. Whether 11 or 17, the fundamentals a student learns from sixth grade through high school, prepare them for those authentic experiences in life. The media landscape always changes, and journalists change with it. We evolve on how we consume and produce news. That all starts at the middle-school level. “Journalism teachers at all levels are a family, and no one outside this J family quite ‘gets’ what we do,” Patrick said. “So, find friends. We are out there.” The odds might be stacked against us, but investing in middle school journalism will pay dividends for years to come.