Steering high school journalists on right path

"The New York Times. My dad was like, 'You've got to read the best writers in the world.' "

"The Sun-Times. My dad writes for it."

"The Trib. My dad was very angry about the new layout, but I like it."

Then the tough question: If they had to write a column that day, what would it be about?

Several mentioned schools. Why are kids from certain schools but not others killed? What's the story of the parents whose children have been killed recently? Does making it easier to become a teacher make for inferior teaching?

Those are great ideas, though hard to execute in a short time and space. One student proposed this simple, worthy idea: What's with the ads that have popped up in the Jackson tunnel between the Red and Blue Lines?

"Are people angry about this too?" he said. "Because I am."

Tip No. 4: "I'm angry-and-wonder-if-you-are-too" is a formula guaranteed to get response.

We were almost out of time when a student from Whitney Young H.S. raised his hand and said, unprompted, "The future of journalism rests on our shoulders."

I asked if that was exciting or scary.

"A little bit of both," he said.

Tip No. 5: The future always turns into the past, and whichever end of the change you're on, it will be exciting and scary.