Why Journalism Matters Thomas French

Thomas French, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, has spent the past quarter century redefining the possibilities of journalistic storytelling, both in his writing and in his teaching around the world.

He chronicled the lives of students attending Largo High School in his nonfiction book South of Heaven.

"Before we step into that booth, it's crucial, to our country, to our democracy, to every family in this land, that we know the facts of the candidates. That's why journalism matters."

"We are supposed to pay attention to the invisible, which brings me back to high school, into your lives."

"Your lives matter, and the details of those lives matter."

Advice #1: "Your schools are not boring. Your schools are overflowing with amazing, interesting, important stories that matter."

Advice #2: "Your job is not to make your school look good, or look bad either. Your job is to accurately describe what your high school is like, for better or worse."

Advice #3: "You have to write about people and report on people who are not like you. Your job is not to report on you and your friends. Your job is to get out there and talk to kids you would not normally talk to."

"The mission: to capture a few glimpses of your lives and of your schools -- in words, in videos and online."

"Someone has to tell them, why not everyone in this room? Why not you?"

Photos by Robert Wormley and Betty Chen

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