Unexpected Lessons THS Journalism Taught Me


Gia Shin, Co-Editor-in-Chief

I walked into my first Echo meeting a timid, shy girl. I sat in the back of the classroom, nibbling on the sandwich as I listened to the upperclassmen pitching story ideas and updating Mr. Whitehead on their weeks. I felt like an outsider floating on my own little island. Little did I know four years later, The Echo would be one of my most treasured communities.

Four years ago, I had no clue what journalism was. In my mind, journalists were uptight people who got shoved around at news conferences and had to work tirelessly around the clock to cover a 24-hour news cycle. As someone who was hardly interested in covering politics and was turned off by the spontaneity of breaking news, I didn’t think there was a place for me in journalism. But I’ve quickly come to learn that journalism is far more than that.

Surprisingly, my most valuable takeaway isn’t about writing. Sure, it’s important to know how to properly structure a hard news story and give proper attributions. I’m most grateful, however, for the mindset that journalism has equipped me with. My favorite stories to write are profiles, which are stories about specific people. I’ve highlighted the accomplishments of student-athletes, musicians, and artists. I’ve written profiles of teachers, counselors, and even the crossing guard. Writing profiles allow me to talk to people I normally wouldn’t approach. It makes me feel good to spotlight someone’s achievements or tell their backstory. After all, THS staff members are also human with their own routines and habits. I grew much closer to the community here and have a deeper appreciation for it.

I’m also infamously known to be “in the doghouse,” as our advisor, Mr. Whitehead, puts it. Any school-related controversy? Send it over to Gia Shin to cover. I’ve written articles about changes to the IDT policy, the outdated school infrastructure, and on refurbishing the senior lounge. Mr. Morrison even wrote in response to that article when I requested an interview for my next one: “I didn’t like [it]. If you want access to me, the condition is I get to read the article before publishing, or no deal” (sorry, Mr. Morrison, can’t get rid of me yet).

Now, as the only Journalism III Honors student in our period 5 combined CPA and Honors class, I can confidently say I know the ins and outs of journalism. To be honest, I hadn’t ever considered journalism a serious career option for me until this year. My advice for those who want to step foot into the world of journalism: don’t be afraid to make mistakes. During my freshman year, I unwittingly published an article before receiving Mr. Whitehead’s approval (the number one no-no in The Echo). After getting called out for it, embarrassment permeated through every bone of my body. I genuinely thought any chance I had at the school newspaper was officially done for. Clearly, that’s not the case. So thrust yourself into unfamiliar worlds, and don’t be afraid to stumble.

Four years ago, I never imagined journalism would be the study I would be pursuing in college. I’d even argue that journalism is the opposite of that cold, polarized image ingrained in my brain. To me, it’s about bringing people together. With the mindset THS journalism equipped me with—persisting in the face of rejection, approaching unfamiliar faces, and empathizing with different stories—I know I will thrive wherever I end up in my next chapter.