We teach a course on media literacy at Yakoosge Daakahidi High School in which our students learn to look for both the intended and unintended message conveyed by a piece of media. They look at the text of an ad or piece of writing and then look at the bias of the author, whether intentional or not. We imagine that our students looked at the Juneau Empire's coverage of the YDHS graduation and saw the same message we did.
We are upset that the YDHS graduation was positioned in the paper in the space usually reserved for beautiful but not necessarily pictures and/or the news of the weird. By contrast, there were pictures of both the Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas graduations on the front page of the June 1 issue. More students graduated from YDHS this year than from TMHS and it was second page news. What does the fact that YDHS did not get front-page coverage say about the importance given to graduation for non-mainline students in Juneau? Are baseball championships really more important and deserving of front page news than the life changing accomplishment of these 50 students? It seems to us that room could have been made on the front page to honor this milestone accomplishment for the students.
So many other special things happened in our graduation ceremony that it makes me very sad that your paper could not find the time or space to do in-depth coverage for these students who indeed "overcame difficult obstacles ..." in order to graduate. Poor coverage (missing names, mistakes, and poor placement) confirms for our students that in the eyes of the world they are less important than other students in Juneau.
The Empire has published some very nice articles about our school this past year which are much appreciated. Positive press has a function in building the public's perception of our school and its role in the community. In the future, taking some time to check facts, gather names and weigh the importance of particular information when it comes to articles about YDHS would be appreciated, particularly in giving milestones like high school graduation the importance they deserve.
Valorie Ringle, Ryia Waldern, Joyce Thoresen and James Bennett, Yaakoosge Daakahidi teachers
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