I am very much aware of the power of the written language. I am also aware that with such power and command comes with it the responsibility of wielding restraint. Oftentimes, though, journalists don’t recognize this concept and use words that can impair or severely stagger one’s spiritual and emotional growth.
I’m probably one of the most pessimistic people you can find around these parts. I hate it when I can predict things before they actually happen due to past experiences or merely through my understanding of local Chamorro and Refaluwasch culture. Some of my friends have even jokingly christened the name “Rostradamus,” as a result of some of my foretold conclusions.
Last Tuesday, I witnessed a news correspondent come through NMTI looking for a news story. It’s been my experience in the past that oftentimes the media either sensationalizes things mentioned or completely misquotes the individual being interviewed. This has been and continues to be a challenge with the news reports on island.
The article titled “21 dropouts to get high school diplomas from NMTI” in Wednesday’s Marianas Variety was a perfect example of irresponsible journalism. Journalists must be mindful that they are a member of this community and the words they publish have a profound effect on the people that read their articles. NMTI admissions personnel specifically asked the reporter NOT to use the word “dropout.”
Please don’t get me wrong by thinking I’m just being sensitive about the use of a word. It just that some of the individuals that come to our institute for their Adult Vocational Technical High School have chosen to step outside their current surroundings and correct an unfinished item on their bucket list. We try to motivate our students as much as possible. As a result of finishing their high school requirement we’ve noticed they now have a bit of pep in their step and earning such a diploma they can now move further in their trades studies to pursue their certification in technical trades fields like automotive, welding, carpentry, HVAC, etc.
NMTI is primarily a trades school that has an adult high school component to complement its ongoing programs. The only difference with our high school from that of other schools is that the electives are in the trades areas.
I can only hope that the media will see that what they write can be damaging emotionally for those aspiring to make positive changes in their lives. As Rupert Murdoch once said: “Great journalism will always attract readers. The words, pictures and graphics that are the stuff of journalism have to be brilliantly packaged; they must feed the mind and move the heart.”
Songsong Village, Luta