The elective, taught by Michael Zimmerman, included sophomores, juniors and seniors who had very little knowledge of international, national and local news at the outset.
"In a few short months, however, after NLP’s core lessons on the First Amendment, the structure of the newspaper, and bias, students became voracious consumers of The New York Times almost every day,” Zimmerman wrote in his evaluation of the program.
NLP organized visits by journalists and provided guidance to faculty and students, leading to the launch of the school’s first newspaper, The Growler.
NLP coordinated a Skype call with Nancy Youssef, the Cairo-based Middle East bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, to provide a global context for freedom of speech. Byron “Barney” Calame, former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a former public editor of The New York Times, also visited to give students constructive criticism on their writing and to discuss the finer points of bias, balance and the quality of the sources they used for their articles, which were published in the school newspaper.
"The chance to hear about your own writing from someone like that … is really rare and incredible," said Genesis Nuneiz, a student in the journalism class.
Students were inspired to examine their own school and community and write op-eds, news articles, fashion reports, reviews, profiles and investigations on topics as varied as the quality of sex education at their high school and a small fire in their building.