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January 26, 2009
By Zanny Marsh
The Reynolds School of Journalism and Center for Advanced Media Studies hosted more than 165 high school students and newspaper and yearbook advisers during the annual ‘Journalism Day’ Jan. 23.
Students represented nine urban and rural high schools in northern Nevada and California and – for the first time – a dozen middle school students attended from Swope Middle School in Reno.
“The student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists presents Journalism Day to identify and encourage the next generation of talented journalists,” said Amy Beck, a Reynolds School senior and senior editor for The Nevada Sagebrush newspaper. “We want high school students to know this school offers a creative experience and a quality education that will translate into meaningful careers even if they aren’t necessarily thinking that far ahead,” Beck said.
Keynote speaker Karl Grubaugh, Dow Jones Newspaper Fund national high school newspaper adviser of the year, received a hearty response when he asked students about their interests. Yearbook staffs and newspaper staffs generated the loudest response but an impressive number of students self-identified as tweeters (a social networking affiliation).
“There’s no doubt that journalism has changed over the years,” Grubaugh said alluding to social networking and electronic communication tools. “Student journalists – whatever the medium – produce quality work that commands respect and attention.”
Grubaugh, adviser to The Granite Bay Gazette at Granite Bay High School in Calif., presented two additional workshops including a presentation for advisers.
Students chose from 17 different educational workshops, a writing competition and a discussion about college and journalism school requirements.
“I loved it,” said Austin Walker, a junior at Fernley High School. “I need to know what courses to take now to major or minor in journalism. I have already applied for acceptance here.”
Journalism Day events typically draw about 100 students. The record attendance necessitated a few last-minute tweaks.
An additional section was added to accommodate students interested in design. “Visuals are becoming far more important in today’s society and students want to be part of it,” said Mike Higdon, senior journalism minor, who taught the workshop.
Students sat on the floor and even crowded into the hall for Jessica Estepa’s workshop on interviewing and angles.
“It’s exciting to see so many high school students want to become better journalists,” said Estepa, a junior in the print sequence.
Kelly Driscoll, a senior at Churchill County High School, said she would carry back the interviewing techniques she learned in the workshop.
“Our staff does a lot of talking over My Space and we need to practice face to face communication, especially to prepare for interviews.”
“This was a worthwhile event for my students to attend,” said Laurie Crawford, a journalism adviser at Bishop Manogue Catholic High School. “The day was well organized and packed a lot of content into the sections.”
Ceppos thought Journalism Day was fun and also inspiring.
“The innovative journalism program offered at Swope Middle School is the start of something that we hope catches on,” said Jerry Ceppos, Reynolds School dean. “A Newspaper of Association of America study in 2008 showed that students who work on high school newspapers and yearbooks get better grades in high school, earn higher ACT scores and get better grades as college freshmen. We shouldn’t wait until high school to educate students in journalism and design.”
The Reynolds School of Journalism is Nevada’s only accredited journalism school.