VCU Workshop Enhances High School Journalism Skills
VCU Scholastic Journalism Workshop Publicist
Instead of spending the summer sleeping in, a group of high school journalists is rising early for an intensive two-week workshop aimed at preparing them for the professional world of mass communications.
The VCU Scholastic Journalism Workshop, directed by VCU instructor and former USA Today wire editor Mary Ann Owens, offers the students experience in executing story assignments, participating in news conferences and conducting interviews. The workshop began July 9 and continues until July 20.
Workshop sessions also feature guest speakers including college professors, Emmy award-winning broadcasters and local journalists.
“It’s important that these students learn how important legit journalism is to a democratic republic like ours,” Owens said. “Objective journalism is the fourth estate of government and should be respected for the role it plays in a free society.”
The young journalists, whose interests span from wildlife to fashion, will be taught skills essential to a wide spectrum of communication formats.
The students will write stories about Richmond culture, which will be published in the workshop’s newspaper, the VCU Scholastic Reporter.
“What excites me most is being able to report news and shape public discussion,” said VSJW participant Katherine Peterson, 17, a student from Manchester High School. “I’m excited to learn from people with experience and become a better journalist with their guidance.”
In addition to Peterson, VSJW participants are Chace Blackburn, 15, Hanover High School; Nick Glass, 16, Hanover; Cody Roane, 17, Hanover; Jordan Shanks, 17, Hanover; Theresa Pelonero, 17, Manchester, and Kaila Cypress, 17, Riverbend High School.
VCU graduate student Jeannette Porter, who serves as assistant workshop director, said she loves teaching the students new things and building on knowledge they already possess.
“I really enjoy the ‘aha’ moments students have when they learn something new and can connect it with something they already do,” Porter said.
The VSJW curriculum is designed to teach journalistic convergence skills to prepare the students for careers that focus on writing and producing for print, online and broadcast media. The workshop also features sessions on social media and news production, which will be covered both by professors and local producers/editors.
VCU alumnus and SpangTV producer Jordan Rodericks is serving as a VSJW guest speaker. Rodericks said it’s important for young journalists to familiarize themselves with the production process early.
“Producers oversee all the aspects of a project from beginning to end: organizing the people involved, making sure everything is accurate and delivering the best final product they can,” Roderick said.
The workshop is sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University, the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, the Virginia Press Association and SpangTV.