A Reflection On My Journalism Years


Lindsey Flynn

A group photo of the 2021-22 Birdwatch staff. From left to right: Kai Matsumoto, Katie Arnoult and Jason Khan.

Katie Arnoult, Editor

I remember back in sixth grade when I filled out the form to choose my elective for the next school year. The Journalism/ASB elective stood out on the list of options. Writing has been my passion since elementary school, so I knew that this class would be in my wheelhouse. I was right.

Because not enough students signed up for Journalism that year, it became a committee within the newly-formed Leadership class, a combination of The Birdwatch and ASB. I was a seventh-grade “newbie” in the Journalism committee who took a learning course on the skills required for reporting. We learned about the Associated Press (AP) Style of writing, copyright and credits, interviewing and much more before we even started writing our first story.

My advice for new journalists is to not fear mistakes, especially some of your first stories. That is why you have editor(s) to give feedback and help you revise your article. Additionally, see interviewing as more of a conversation. Most people love to talk about themselves or topics that they know about, so try to view it as something that both you and your interviewee can enjoy. Through my interviews, I have gotten to meet new people, get to know others better, build connections and make new friends.

Writing for The Birdwatch does not always mean only writing about school events. Yes, that is a significant factor in it, but we also try to include stories about local news and feature specific people or events. Sometimes you will get the chance to write about what interests you, and through writing that story you will learn new things and teach others as well. I think that is one of the joys of journalism- you find more freedom and independence than you realize.

Towards the end of my seventh-grade year, Ms. Bellendir, our ASB Adviser, asked me if I planned on taking Journalism again next year and if I would like to be the next committee director. Honored by this opportunity, my sights were set on the next chapter of my Birdwatch career. The following year, ASB and The Birdwatch worked better than ever, refined and altered to meet class needs and ensure productivity and efficiency.

As the committee director for The Birdwatch, I served as both writer and manager. Committee directors not only give committee members instructions on what to do, but are also active in what your group works on. Although I was the boss, I didn’t just stand above others giving orders. I had both feet in myself, diving headfirst into the action, writing my stories while directing my team. This is how ASB operates; during events that ASB coordinated, everyone present did their job, even the bosses. ASB is one great force working together and communicating to get the job done, not employees serving someone in a higher position than them.

If you asked me what my favorite article that I wrote is, I would have a difficult time choosing. Each story that I wrote served a purpose, whether it promoted an ASB event, educated readers about a specific culture or just informed about our community and society. With each article, I felt challenged to focus on different aspects because not every post is the same. Some require more interviews and quotes, such as a Q&A. Others call for extra research and information, like articles for heritage months or special holidays.

I wish I could stay where I am now as a committee director in ASB, where it would not be as extreme as Los Alamitos High School, but I know that future teams of McAuliffe journalists will take The Birdwatch to the next level. However, I am very excited to take journalism at the high school, where I can continue to do what I love. The Griffin Chronicle, LAHS’s online student news publication, has not been around for a year or two because not enough students applied for it. Now, students are trying to bring it back, and I am thrilled to be a part of that journey next year.

I will always remember my experiences in The Birdwatch, and I hope that, in future years, it will continue to thrive, even more than now. From the connections that I made to the valuable skills that I have learned, The Birdwatch has given me memories that I will always reflect upon and cherish.