21st Century News Media: How it All Started


21st Century News Media is a new class here at DeForest but has been in the making for a while now. This class is described to be a journalism based curriculum with the hopes of starting up a student newspaper. Ms. Vogel is a new teacher at DeForest High School and took on not only the challenge of dealing with freshman English, but taking on a completely new class. In order to get more information on how this class came to fruition, Mr. Liedl answered a few questions. 

When asked “what made you want to start this class”, he responded” There’s a number of reasons for starting this class. I attended UW-Madison for journalism and worked in the field for a number of years as an assistant editor at a small newspaper in California and as a reporter and writer for various newspapers and magazines. So I believe very strongly in the value of journalism and its crucial role in a healthy democracy. Over the last few years, we constantly hear the term “fake news” thrown around and journalists and reporters have been criticized as the “enemy of the people” by some politicians. It seems many people are confused about what news sources to trust or even how to discern basic fact from fiction. Becoming media literate and savvy, informed consumers of news is something students and our entire country could benefit from.

“The idea for the class formed out of discussion with my incredible English colleagues. There had been a school newspaper several years ago. We explored running the paper as a club but in the end (looooong story short) it worked best as a class. It was very humbling to have the class approved and to have the great responsibility of ensuring its success.”

Next he was asked “when the class got approved, what did you envision the class to be like?” He answered “I had a vision for the website which looks a lot like how the Jefferson Street Journal turned out! 

I wanted to get the students reporting and writing as much as possible but also recognized they needed a foundation in journalism to be able to do so. Being an effective journalist is much, much more than merely being a strong writer. Interviewing, reporting, and cultivating a beat takes practice just like anything. Additionally, I wanted to focus on media literacy and teaching students how to be informed, critical consumers of news as I mentioned before. There’s excellent investigative reporting being done and there’s loads of trash reporting too. You just got to know where to look. 

Much like the site turned out I wanted the paper to be based in hard news, including community news, sports, performing arts, student clubs, etc., but also to include opinions (hot takes!), reviews, maybe even fiction such as short stories and poems. Every paper should be grounded in hard news, but students also need to write about topics they care about and are interested in. I love what I’ve seen so far!” 

Mr Liedl explained that he didn’t really have any names picked out for the paper at the time, but that he wanted to leave the name up to the students and he really likes the current name. 

The final question for Lidel was “if you’ve read some of the stories on the website already, what do you think?” he responded “Of course! I’ve been following closely and am really impressed by what I’ve seen thus far. There’s always things to improve on (I’ll always be an English teacher at heart :)), but am really impressed with the variety and quality of student content. It actually made me pretty emotional to see all the work of Ms. Vogel and students come to fruition. Reading bylines with so many familiar student names I was looking forward to having in class made me super nostalgic. I was really excited about leading the course and hadn’t realistically expected to leave DeForest, especially so last minute.” 

He said that Ms. Vogel deserves a bunch of credit (which she totally does), and that he can’t wait to see what comes next.