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High School Journalism Day makes communication a priority

The third USC Annenberg event shows students how they can pursue careers in media and technology

Keith Plocek
Keith Plocek shows students how to tell stories through Snapchat. (Photo/Brett Van Ort)

León Krauze, an award-winning Mexican journalist and news anchor, says journalism is a “boxing match” between an interviewer and interviewee.

“What is journalism for?” asked Krauze, who holds the Wallis Annenberg Chair in Journalism at USC. “Journalism is a tool against power. Journalism speaks truth to power, it confronts the powerful, it holds the powerful accountable. When journalism is seen as a tool against power, it’s indispensable for a healthy society and for a journalist, it’s lots of fun.”

Krauze shared his insights with local students on High School Journalism Day, held Sept. 30 at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. More than 100 freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors attended workshops focusing on the use of social media.

Last fall, 25 students from Communication and Technology School in Los Angeles participated in the first Journalism Day; after that, a spring event attracted 70 students from five high schools.

Getting it together

Last month’s event was organized by Jaime Carias, a civic engagement coordinator at USC Annenberg.

According to Carias, the day gives students an opportunity to be on a college campus, where they learn about aspects of media, technology and communication.

Students realized “there is an opportunity for a career in education, media, technology, communication, and, most importantly, that they have the power to tell their story and the story of their community,” Carias said. “Many times when media tells stories about South L.A., East L.A., Boyle Heights, it’s negative stories about all the bad that’s going on and not about the good or success going on.”

The 109 students from 10 high schools in Los Angeles and Long Beach learned about digital storytelling, met with USC Annenberg faculty and took a tour of the Julie Chen/Leslie Moonves and CBS Media Center Media Center.

In an assembly before the workshops, School of Journalism Director Willow Bay shared her vision of journalism education, which focuses on the power of words and images.

“We teach students how to use those words and images accurately, effectively and wisely. We teach them how to harness current and emerging technologies in service of really powerful and compelling storytelling,” Bay said. “We teach them about the awesome responsibility of telling other people’s stories. Here at the school they don’t just study journalism, we actually practice journalism.”

A day of firsts

For some of the students, it was their first time in a modern newsroom.

Amber Figueroa, a senior at Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School, said being able to experience the broad range of tools available to today’s journalists was eye-opening.

“I think Annenberg is a great school, and they offer a lot of opportunities you wouldn’t get in other places,” she said.

Another highlight for Figueroa was Professor Laura Castañeda’s workshop on how to find compelling story ideas and then tell those stories in new ways.

“I think whether or not the students are interested in journalism, this is a great exposure to higher education and to professors who might be able to help them in the future,” Castañeda said. “When students become voting citizens, they need to know how to interrogate information and find the correct information and ask questions. It’s all valuable for them.”

Keith Plocek, an adjunct journalism professor, taught students how to use Snapchat to tell stories.

“Ideally with all these new platforms, I would like students to think of them as storytelling devices,” Plocek said. “It’s more like teaching how to tell a good story.”

For the high school teachers, Journalism Day was a welcome chance to learn new skills as well.

On the right track

Robyn Charles, a certified technical educator at Dorsey High School, said she appreciated the event’s professional development track.

“It’s really invaluable to be able to workshop ideas with the professors who are actually here,” Charles said.

Cathy Phung, a senior at Bravo High School, said she had not previously considered journalism as a career option, but High School Journalism Day had made it seem cool. She works on yearbook in school and picked up skills that she could put to work right away.

“It makes me reconsider how I’m posting in relation to how I can promote our own school and events going on at our school,” Phung said. “I’m glad our school got the opportunity to come today.”

 

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