A Letter from the Editor

Something I learned from an incredibly young age is that language, knowing how to use it, and how to think about it, is the most powerful tool anyone has. Words are truly, in my opinion, the most amazing thing created by humans. Words have the power to make someone laugh, cry, even angry. Words inspire, and tell stories, and change how or what people believe.

Learning how to speak and write, using language to appeal to the audience, is such a beautiful thing in my eyes. Every word is used with purpose.

It is imperative, now more than ever, that we use the English language to its fullest extent. As George Orwell argues in his essay, Politics and the English Language, “… prose consists less and less of WORDS chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of PHRASES tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse.” Orwell comments on the mechanical repetition of well-worn phrases as a substitute for critical thought processes.

I believe it is this general lack of critical thinking that endangers journalism and media today.

It is our civic duty as human beings to learn HOW to think, not merely WHAT. David Foster Wallace, author of This is Water, argues that learning ‘how to think’ is merely learning how to exercise some level of control over how and what you think. It can be so easy to spend our entire lifetimes accepting the natural default ways of thinking, rather than choosing to look differently about life and the world around us. We so easily accept anything we believe to be true, without second thoughts or judgment. Whether it be an interview, a media article, even a social media post, the only thing that is really “capital-T Truth” is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see the world, and how you construct meaning from experience (Wallace).

I was recently asked, “Why journalism? Why Palmetto & Pine?” I can say with confidence, that the key pillar of journalism, the search for the truth, is what I pursue. The best journalists are set on the search for the truth. They have a need to discover and understand what is happening, whether it be a crime, the weather, a financial crisis, a concert or trend, even a sports game. Journalists seek the information to tell an engaging story of what happened to an audience for whom it matters. Through this all, journalists get to decide how they construct meaning from experience. Journalists don’t just USE the English language and engage in critical thinking, but they create the foundation for others to do so as well.

I sincerely hope that all consumers of the Palmetto & Pine, leave armed with the tools and strategies provided by this paper, to make the best possible decisions about your life, community, society, and government. Remember, the root of all change starts with individual thinking, and the freedom to express what you believe. Please take the time to explore the renewed online publication of the Palmetto & Pine, the student news site of St. Petersburg High School, and while you do so, please think about your thinking.

-Grace Kusek