Guest Speaker Provides Journalism Students with Insight into the Career


Babowice explained how she came to write for the Daily Herald and the changes she’s seen in the journalism field.

Tara Lawson, Staff Reporter

Guest speaker J. Hope Babowice, author of Kids Ink Q&A column for young readers for the Daily Herald and who also works in the MHS Literacy Center, spoke in November to Michelle Didzbalis’ second period journalism class about her experiences with journalism.

Babowice became a columnist “after [her] son, who was four at the time, said, ‘Mommy will you read me this article in the newspaper?’, and it was a cool picture of a tank, but it was really inappropriate. It was about something bloody and gory in the Persian Gulf,” she said.

She wrote to the newspaper, the Daily Herald, requesting some kid-friendly articles, and she received a reply back, asking if she would be willing to write them.

Although her background was in public relations, she decided to give it a try. Twenty-one years later, she’s still doing it.

Babowice also talked about her writing styles and who she admires, such as Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth B. Ginsburg.

“I like that she already knew who her role model was,” said Senior Trevor Fox, staff reporter for the school newspaper. “Having a role model shows that everybody needs a mentor and someone to look up to. Even though she’s been in the industry for over 20 years, she still has people that she looks to for growth and ways to improve her writing; it’s a way to show that you’re never too young to learn from somebody.”

Fox enjoyed that Babowice explained that there are so many newspapers and articles that go untouched but the best way to learn is by reading and writing, even if the topic is dull.

Babowice shared her technique for finding topic ideas for her articles, and with more than 140 articles on the Daily Herald’s online website, one would imagine finding new topics could become difficult.

“The kids generate [article ideas]; it’s so easy. They just write down questions, and then I pick questions out of a pile,” said Babowice. “I’ve gone to different summer camps, libraries, for a while I had grade school teachers collect them, but now I mostly go to youth programs. Kids are amazing. If they’re 11 and under, they don’t need much guidance on coming up with a question.”

Besides hearing how Babowice produces story topics, the aspiring journalists in the class appreciated hearing the pros and cons of the profession.

One downside to the profession is the dwindling amount of jobs available.

“I learned that newspapers are becoming more and more rare, and because of that, jobs are becoming more and more rare, and companies are in trouble,” said Alex Loding, junior news editor for the school newspaper. “Also, [Babowice] talked about how journalists don’t make very much money, and that is a tough life. The most shocking thing was that she told us that The [Chicago] Tribune is in bankruptcy. All of this is disheartening, but I’d still like to be a journalist one way or another when I’m older.”

The Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper Ashley Wolfe, senior, also said she appreciated hearing the realities of pursuing this career.

“Reflecting on this presentation, I find that this really expanded my interest in journalism,” said Wolfe. “I did learn of the many negatives of the profession and things that draw some away, but I find myself still deeply interested… I know it’s not a highly profitable endeavor, but I can’t think of anything better for me. Having Mrs. Babowice speak with us further solidified my decision to pursue journalism.”