Kyle’s Column: Voices of the Future


In the latest installment of Kyle’s Column, WSPN’s Opinions Editor Kyle Chen reflects upon the lessons that come with having a cold.

Kyle Chen

We touched down around nine in the evening. The plane glided over the tarmac as the captain’s voice crackled through the intercom – “ladies and gentlemen, welcome to San Francisco.”

As we reached the gate, the plane eased to a stop in front of the expansive airport windows. A collective metal click echoed through the cabin as the people got up, collecting their luggage and duly trudging one-by-one up the aisle to the front exit. For lack of space, I had been forced to stuff my suitcase into a small nook in the very last overhead compartment on the plane. So as my friends marched up and out of the plane, I remained in my row, leaning against my seat, watching people plod past.

When the cabin was finally almost empty, I slid out of my seat and strode over to where my bag remained lodged in the overhead. I had just pulled it out and began my journey up the aisle when a small group of kids caught my attention. They were still seated with their seatbelts fastened, all holding a notepad in their laps. The students, who were all wearing matching T-shirts with the name of their publication emblazoned on their chests, appeared to be deep in concentration. I noticed one boy scribbling on his paper, occasionally peering out the window.

As I turned away from the group, a small smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. The National Scholastic Press Association’s convention hadn’t even started, and yet I had already found a group of student journalists that, it seemed, I would see around in the next few days.

We arrived in San Francisco on the eve of the high school journalism convention held semiannually by the NSPA. These momentous, three-day events are chock-full of presentations, writing workshops and write-off competitions. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the convention was the union of so many young journalists committed to the search for truth. This magical dynamic was palpable on the opening night of the convention as we sat in the Grand Ballroom, awaiting the speakers who would kick it all off.

During the opening ceremony, a couple of presenters addressed the audience, including the president of the NSPA and a former high school student who received the award of NSPA Journalist of the Year a couple years back. But the final keynote speakers who closed out the ceremony were two middle-aged men, both of whom had been longtime journalists. The two rose to prominence in the early 2000s because of an incredible series of coverage about homelessness in the United States.

They told us their story; how they had started the project, what they did throughout the many years they covered their beat and what they still did today. But throughout the presentation, there was one message they were clearly trying to impress upon the audience: the reason they went out to cover the story, and the reason why they succeeded, was because they loved what they did and recognized the importance of journalism.

The presentation felt to me almost like the passing of the torch. In the process of telling us their personal story, these journalists were transferring something to the student journalists in the audience. They were passing on the journalistic spirit – the drive to tell the stories you don’t hear every day.

Close to the end of the presentation, one of the journalists spoke about a homeless woman he had covered for a long time, who had passed away a couple years back. At her funeral, he sang a song he had composed. Then, pulling out a guitar, he sang us the same song – a beautiful remembrance of this woman he had come to know so well.

After he sang, he turned back to the audience.

“I hope you feel that way about the people you write about in the future,” he said. “I hope you love them and care about them like that. After all, they need you; you are their voice.”

Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.