We Say #Never Again: Reporting by Parkland Student Journalists

We Say #Never Again: Reporting by the Parkland Student Journalists

Melissa Falkowski & Eric Garner, Editing by MSD Teachers

Crown Books for Young Readers, Nonfiction, Oct. 2, 2019

Pages: 272

Suitable for Ages: 14 and up

Themes: School shooting, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Student reporters, Social activism

Finalist: Senior High Nonfiction category of the Cybils Award, which will be announced Feb. 14, 2019

Book Synopsis: Our story. Our lives. Our School.

While the world reported on the events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 14, 2018, the students themselves were reporting the story and living through it. Many of the most impactful voices in the #NeverAgain movement came through the school’s journalism and broadcasting programs, and they have credited their teachers and the training they received for allowing them to think critically and communicate clearly – enabling them to launch a movement that has inspired a nation.

But how do student journalists report effectively when they have become the story? How do the write about loss when it impacts their own lives so deeply? The insight the students have gained about the media, ethics and researching the public has not only motivated others to join this movement, but has encouraged them to start movements of their own.

Reporting from inside the media storm that followed the Parkland tragedy, these clear-eyed and passionate young reporters bring a fresh perspective to a crucial American issue, while shining a bright light on the importance of journalism in our free society.

Why I love this book:

This sensitive and convincingly penned book is a natural outcome of the events of the horrific shooting of 17 students and faculty members at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (MSD) on Feb. 14, 2018. It is a story that only the students can tell. It is raw, honest and powerful. It is a hopeful story about a generation who wants to make a difference in their world.

The book was written by the students, but edited by teachers Melissa Falkowski (journalism) and Eric Garner (broadcasting). Each teacher wrote compelling opening chapters in the book that gave an account of the events that fateful day and how the student reporters and broadcasters stepped forward as professionals to report for the school newspaper, website and TV station. The teachers provide  convincing arguments for the importance of supporting high school journalism/broadcasting programs and student-run newspapers.

The students contributed short chapters about being thrust into the spotlight, dealing with criticism, meeting politicians, managing their own trauma, becoming activists, reporting extraordinary acts by MSD students and teachers, dealing with criticism, and managing their own trauma. The book is well documented with photographs of people and events.

The students were trained and prepared by their teachers in the MSD journalism and broadcasting programs. They were part of the story, but they reported the story. From the start the editorial staff decided they would not name the shooter and give him the notoriety he sought. They felt it would be irresponsible journalism. He was not mentioned in the school newspaper or when staff members were interviewed by the national media, spoke at rallies and wrote this magnificent book. It was refreshing to see these students stand strong in their beliefs of what was right and wrong in the reporting of this monumental event in their lives. Their reporting was impartial as they held to a standard that surpasses much of the sensationalism we see in  media today. When they moved into the role of activism at the forefront of the March for Our Lives movement against gun violence, they were prepared and supported.

I studied journalism in high school and in college. What stood out for me was how the MSD multi-media programs inspired high schools students to find their voices and stand up for a cause they believed in — gun violence in America. This book is an excellent discussion book for high school students and teachers. It belongs in every school library.

Melissa Falkowski has been the faculty adviser of the Eagle Eye for the last three years. She has been teaching English and creative writing at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for 14 years. Once a student journalist herself, Melissa became a teacher to empower students and help them find their voices through journalism.

Eric Garner leads the Television Production Academy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, preparing students for the broadcast journalism and film industries. He has been a television production and film instructor for over 25 years and has worked at WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida’s News Channel, and WTVJ in Miami/Fort Lauderdale.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

22 thoughts on “We Say #Never Again: Reporting by Parkland Student Journalists

    • I don’t think so. It is heartbreaking that it had to be written, but you will find it inspiring. At least the journalist in me did. There is another book released a few weeks later by the students and organizers of The March for Our Lives Movement, “Glimmer of Hope.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. These kids will be strong leaders in our country and this gives them a great start. Too bad the circumstances were so horrendous. I will be getting a copy of this one for sure. Thanks for your great review.

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    • I have no doubt, the students will become strong leaders. I was grateful for the journalism/broadcasting departments for preparing the students to find their voice, speak their truth and take action. You would enjoy the teachers thoughts about the value of journalism programs and student-run newspapers.

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    • I am happy to hear that you want to read this book. It is really about the media students and their taking the opportunity to use their voice. There is another book published in October, “Glimmer of Hope,” which is the official, book from The March for Our Lives founders.

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  2. I didn’t even know this book existed, but I definitely want to see what these students have written after experiencing such an awful event. Thank you so much for a great review of a timely read!

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    • The tragedy is mentioned, but the focus is on the students and what they did. You follow their though-process as they make decisions, talk about the criticism they received, and their positive and negative experiences with the national media coverage. I especially enjoyed the teachers talking about how school media programs and student-run newspapers prepared the students to be critical thinkers.

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    • I think you’d be impressed with how the students handled the situation! That’s why I feel so hopeful about the youth of today. I didn’t find the book sad — only in the reason it had to be written in the first place.

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  3. What an important book. My heart breaks, not only for the students of MSD High as they approach the first anniversary of this shooting, but for all the many who have lost loved ones in this terrible epidemic of mass shootings in this country. But, from the get-go, these young people came out with a powerful message and a movement, and that’s why, like you Patricia, I am hopeful about the youth of today and where they will lead us.

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    • Thank you for visiting! I imagine the first anniversary will be hard, especially as media revisit MSD High. But, they have taken something horrific and turned into a movement for good! There is another book released in October “Glimmer of Hope” about the March for Our Lives. I haven’t read it, but I think it is an excellent companion book. Both belong in school libraries.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this book with us for MMGM, Patricia, as I hadn’t heard of this project previously. I was talking about the approaching one-year anniversary of this tragic event with a friend recently . . . These students and their advisers are to be commended for moving forward in light of what they experienced.

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