The San Jose Mercury News talked to fifteen teenage student journalists about issues ranging from texting while driving to Trayvon to politics. As journalists-in-training, these students are presumably better informed and more engaged than their peers. That presumption could be wrong.
The students’ responses to the Trayvon matter fascinated me because they were so grossly ill-informed. Their answers were all predicated on the original MSM narrative, one that saw a white cracker shoot an innocent black teenager. None had any idea that Zimmerman is a mixed-race man, or that the hard evidence supports Zimmerman’s claims that Trayvon was beating him vigorously (bloody head, broken nose, blackened eyes on Zimmerman, bloodied knuckles on Martin), or that he was correct in his concern that Trayvon was high (the autopsy revealed drugs in Trayvon’s system). Instead, these student “journalists” are as blinkered as the “real” journalists in whose footsteps they hope to follow:
Q: Are you and your friends talking about this controversial case? What has it taught you about race relations?
DeVera: People at my school are awfully ignorant about issues like this one that require a lot more interpersonal thinking. The masses at my school do not care, and it’s tragic that they don’t.
Daniel Wetherell, Athenian: Too many judgments were made with too little facts in this case.
Barger: So many people want to believe that we’re living in a post-racial society and that we don’t discriminate against each other. But something like this comes up, and it makes you realize that we’re not over any of it. If anything, we’re in the same place that we’ve been for quite some time.
Chavez: What’s it going to take for us to get past racism? It seems like we’ve done so much, and yet we’re nowhere near where we should be. And I think it’s really sad.
Sharanya Stanley, Dublin High: We’re integrated (at school), but at a respectful distance. … Groups don’t open themselves up to others. Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever be totally integrated.
Ill-informed or not, these students find the current political scene disappointing. While one dutifully parroted the standard “War on Women” cant, and another said it was impossible for Obama to fix all the horrors that have descended upon him, two students are disappointed with the Great Black Hope. It was clear that they did originally think Obama was a “Magic Negro,” and they’re not coping well with the fact that he actually isn’t magic at all. These students couldn’t identify which of Obama’s tricks were failing to enthrall, but they’re pretty sure the whole show is a bust. As for the remaining two students questioned, they want more money for education, and are apparently unfazed by (or unaware of) both the State’s and the Nation’s massive deficits:
Q: Are you paying attention to the proceedings so far? If not, what would make you pay more attention? Are you pleased with President Obama’s performance?
Barger: I’ve never been more afraid to be a woman. Basically everything that has come out of (the Republican debates) is about restricting women’s reproductive rights, their social rights or putting them down because they work. I may want to move to another country.
Shalaka Gole, California High (San Ramon): My friends and I haven’t been following the (debates/election news). Last time, it was such a huge deal. You had a black man running. A woman running. It was exciting. Now, it’s kind of a letdown so far.
Erram: More talk about education would get me more interested. College tuition is rising constantly, and the financial burden on students has become ridiculous.
Zollner: Yes, more on education. There have been crazy budget cuts. Classes getting cut … I don’t like thinking that my government is taking money away from my education.
DeVera: I love politics. … I was on the Obama bandwagon big time last year. Now, I’m so dissuaded. I’ll probably still support him … but he’s way worse than I could ever imagine. Everyone one had this aura of hope around him. … But I feel like nothing has changed. He’s not really helped and, in fact, has made some things worse.
Gole: I’m not as disappointed. The situation Obama was handed was so crazy, so terrible. Just how much can he do? It’s not like he was given a magic wand when he became president.
When I look back on my high school self, I wasn’t any more informed than these kids are. I watched the (MSM) nightly news with my family, skimmed the newspaper headlines in the morning, and parroted my parents political views. I was mindlessly, ignorantly liberal. What’s sad is that, despite the massive inroads the new media is making, students in 2012 are precisely as knee-jerk and unaware as they were in 1979, when we didn’t have an alternative media to shine light into the darkness.
The one thing that is heartening is the fact that these youngsters are wising up to the fact that Obama is not a Messiah. It may take them a few years to figure out that he’s just the tip of the Leftist iceberg, but my hope is that, having been disappointed once by a demagogue, they’ll be wiser the next time around. Also, if they’re accurately reflecting their parents and their teachers’ attitudes (because we know that Bay Area teachers are improperly leaking politics into the classroom), Obama’s base is very lethargic. They won’t vote for Romney, but they might not have the energy to vote for Obama either.