Mixed Message Media

Girls’ Voices and Civic Engagement in Student Journalism

in Girlhood Studies

Prior research has illustrated the benefits of media literacy and production programs for girls’ self-expression and civic engagement. This study examines whether formal high school journalism programs can be similarly beneficial. A survey of 461 high school journalists shows that girls want to use student media to address serious topics that can contribute to their civic development. But school employees also tell girls more often than boys not to cover sensitive issues in the student media, and girls are more likely than boys to acquiesce to such requests. Girls will not glean the full benefits of journalism education until such disparate treatment is addressed. Journalism educators and school administrators may profit from the feminist pedagogical approaches developed in out-of-school media-focused programs in which girls have demonstrated significant willingness to express themselves and are unencumbered to do so.