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Teens Cover The War From Afar

MTV may be the most popular youthful voice on the dial, but it's not the only voice.

And these days, those other voices, newscasts and newspapers produced by high school journalists, are dealing with war in Iraq.

The Early Show correspondent Melinda Murphy Melinda Murphy met some young journalists who are just beginning to realize what war means to them, both in terms of their coverage and their future.

Clarkstown Senior High School South in West Nyack, N.Y., produces its own cable newscast. Usually, it focuses on the kind of things that affect the students' world - like pancake breakfasts and music honor societies.

But now their world is expanding beyond the school halls. The journalists are just now debating exactly how much of their coverage should include the war in Iraq.

"Even if you're watching something that has absolutely nothing to do with the news, a breaking news bulletin comes in and you can't avoid it," says one student.

These young journalists are putting the skills they've learned in class to use in covering a much bigger story than usual; they are covering a war.

"It's a big deal so that's why we're covering the war," says another student journalist, who admits, along with a lot of his classmates, that he is following the news coverage non-stop. "It's affecting us a lot more than other people."

They are watching a war that's far away, but sometimes feels close to home.

"You see an 18-year-old soldier, it's, you know, that could be me soon," says Scott Saladino. He says he thinks he wants to join the military in a couple of years. In fact, one recent graduate of this class is already on the battlefield.

"I hear sometimes the names of the Marines who died in the war are not disclosed and I'm thinking maybe - you know - maybe it's him. So it's scary," a student says.

"Sometimes I'm afraid to talk about my views," yet another student says, "because people who aren't, who don't share my views, they'll come down on me and say, 'Oh, you shouldn't say this, you shouldn't say that,'"

Exploring different viewpoints is a goal of the television class.

"We need to show what kids our age are thinking about and I don't think that gets around a lot," says a classmate.

"I think it's most important, whatever we do cover, that when we get the opinions of our peers that it's important to respect those opinions especially if they're in contrast to your own," says another.

Coverage of the war is just beginning to creep into the broadcasts, but the students don't want to forget their local focus.

"It's nice to see a capella concerts. It's nice to see honor society inductions. So I think we should have a mixture of both and not just do what all the TV stations are doing today and focusing on the war," says a student.

So while they may not turn all their attention to the Gulf, they want to have a role in the coverage.

"We could just take a break from a normal daily routine just to cover this once-in-a-lifetime chance maybe, because this is history in the making," another student says.

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