Volume 22, Number 05 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 19 - 25, 2009
Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert
Eighth grader Matthew Tanzosh, left, the editor of The Scoop said newspapers are “more comforting to have, I think — it’s there, it’s physical.” With him are one of the M.A.T. school paper’s teacher advisers, Alfonso Guerriero, and reporter, James Dellasala.
Students’ Scoop on newspapers is keep on printin’
By Jared T. Miller
In the past year, reporting breaking news, speaking with CNN journalists and government officials, and covering the inauguration of President Obama might have been the opportunities of a lifetime for professional reporters. But for the seventh and eighth grade students at Manhattan Academy of Technology who write for their school’s paper, these were their first stories.
M.A.T.’s school newspaper, The Scoop, is about to conclude its first year of publishing on June 22. Founded in May of last year by teachers Alfonso Guerriero and Chris Piccigallo, the newspaper is one of the few public middle school newspapers in New York City. The paper includes news and sports writing, comics, and even a food column.
“I had this idea that I wanted to start something different, and different being a newspaper,” said Guerriero, a social studies teacher. “This school has come a long way, in the positive way, so I wanted to somehow broadcast that to the [school] community.”
Student reporters interviewed acting Surgeon General Steven Galson last October, as he toured the physical education and sports programs for which the Chinatown school is renowned. The Scoop ran their inauguration story based on photos and reporting that a student had done when she attended the ceremonies with her mother, who is a federal judge. The newspaper also gives its reporters a chance to follow local news; recently, eighth grade E.L.L. student Danny Lam reported on last month’s big E. Broadway fire and his article will appear in the paper’s final issue.
Early that year, CNN reporter Veronica De La Cruz visited the class after Guerriero contacted her. De La Cruz lectured to his class about the role of Asian Americans in society, the subject of several of her stories for CNN. Guerriero said he hoped her experiences would resonate with the school’s large Asian population. De La Cruz also gave the student reporters advice on journalism, and discussed coverage of Asian communities in the media.
“We don’t want it to be a gossip type of school newspaper, we want to cover all issues: serious issues as well as funny issues, community issues,” Guerriero said. “That was really the idea behind it: build bridges within the school and build a community.”
At the end of this year, all but two of the paper’s student writers are graduating. For many, M.A.T.’s paper was their first introduction to journalism, and graduating means leaving the paper they started behind as they enter high school. Though several students anticipated busy schedules for the coming year, they hope to work for their new high schools’ newspapers.
“I’ll be trying to do newspaper again,” said eighth grader James Dellasala, who will be attending Millennium High School in the fall. He currently authors The Scoop’s comic strip and writes articles on politics and entertainment.
“I think I’ll try to pursue staying within a newspaper too,” said Weston Loving, who writes the paper’s food column. “If my school doesn’t have one, I’ll try to get one running.”
Though younger generations are finding more and more of their news online, the students at M.A.T. still feel the need for their newspaper to continue going to press.
“It’s more comforting to have, I think — it’s there, it’s physical” said eighth grader Matthew Tanzosh. “It’s definitely good to have a source of news around, because you have to know what’s going on.”
The cost of printing the approximately 700 copies of The Scoop—enough to distribute to both the middle and elementary schools at M.A.T.— is covered by multiple sources. Parent as well as private donations are an important source of funding, though the paper recently received two printers as a result of their request on DonorsChoose.com. They are also applying for funding from the Newspaper Association of America, and Downtown Express has given reporting and writing tips to the students in its role as the paper’s grant partner. Regardless of economic considerations, however, the teachers said that The Scoop’s first year will definitely not be its last one.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” said Piccigallo. “We’ll find a way to keep this going for the kids.”