For the next two weeks, the University of Nevada, Reno Donald W. Reynolds School of Journalism will play host to about 30 high school journalism teachers from across the country who were chosen through a competitive process to participate in an intense workshop for high school journalism teachers.
"Many high school journalism teachers have never reported or shot photos in their lives," said Deidre Pike, director of the Reynolds High School Journalism Institute at the University of Nevada, Reno. "The Reynolds Institute emphasizes the core tenets of journalism and gives the teachers the skills they need to produce top-notch student publications, primarily online and using multimedia tools."
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation funds the entire program through a grant to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno was chosen to run one of only five such institutes in the country, joining other prestigious institutions such as Kent State and University of Missouri. The University of Nevada, Reno has been offering the program each summer since 2007, and has been awarded the opportunity to offer the program for at least two more years.
The teachers in the program learn about topics such as media trends, innovations, ethics and law. They engage in hands-on activities - writing, taking photos, podcasting, and learning how to use iMovie software and other technologies. After completing the assignments in the course, they leave with a portfolio of their work that includes a newspaper front-page design, a news story, a feature story, an editorial and ethics policy for their newspaper, a list of story ideas, a video segment or photo gallery and more.
"We keep them busy," Pike said. "They go from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, and while they learn a lot, they also really enjoy it. It's almost like a summer camp. They end up really bonding with each other."
Besides learning from Pike and other journalism faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, the students get to hear from journalism professionals such as Reno Gazette-Journal Executive Editor Beryl Love and Reno News & Review Editor D. Brian Burghart. In addition, Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., spends a morning with the participants, and Karl Grubaugh, the 2008 national Dow Jones High School Journalism Teacher of the Year, shares his knowledge on a variety of subjects. The participants also get to take in some sights while fishing for story and photo opportunities on field trips to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and Virginia City.
Finally, the teachers get some tips on fundraising and creating advertising programs to support their school newspapers.
"When budgets get tight, I'm afraid that the school newspaper is one of the first things to go at many high schools, and that's a shame," Pike said. "Working on the high school paper provides a terrific academic opportunity. Studies have shown that students who have worked on the newspaper consistently do better on standardized tests."