How to Create an Urban Journalism Program for High School Students Who Can be the Next Generation of Media Communicators from Communities of Struggle?

June 4, 2011

Convenor: Barbara Lewis

Participants: Bill Densmore, Amherst; Andrew Humphrey, Detroit; Melvin “Buddy” Baker, Saint Petersburg; Seunghyun Lee, Greensboro; Andrea Krewson, Charlotte

Buddy Baker talked about a journalism program with which he was involved that was focused on middle school students; there were 20 students in print and 20 students in photojournalism; the mentors were professional; the program lasted three weeks; there were field trips and introductions to local business leaders and municipal officials, including the police chief; the student teams wrote up the stories and developed the photos; at the end of the project, the print students created an insert for the local paper and the photojournalists had their work exhibited in a participating gallery.

Andrew Humphrey described a Saturday program in Washington, D.C. that concentrated on print and television; it was held from February to May; there were 12 to 24 students; the curriculum consisted of writing exercises, instruction in broadcast and new media provided by professionals, including anchors and editors. The students produced a publication, and they took their stories from idea to publication; the broadcast students did a video production; because Humphrey was involved he added a weathercast; for interested students, there was also a sportscast. Humphrey recommended that I get in touch with the Boston Association of Black Journalists. I responded that it was not the most active chapter and was practically defunct. He suggested that I join the National Association of Black Journalists. He mentioned Carole Simpson, who is now at Emerson College. He suggested bringing in guest speakers, including those who could talk about technology and blogging. The New Media Lab at MIT is a good resource. He said that I needed to draft an application and draft a profile of the kind of student desired plus reach out for teacher volunteers. Charter Schools would be one logical place to look for student who would consider applying since they had a base that was already motivated and also the schools that had school newspapers.

Bill Densmore mentioned HOME, Inc., which is a media literacy program that has been operating in Boston for many years. I mentioned that I had contacted Michel, who runs HOME, Inc. and would be meeting with him and the two other members of the initial planning group, Janis Pryor, who works at WUMB, the campus radio station, and Kenneth Cooper, who is on staff at the Trotter Institute, on June 14, 2011. Densmore also mentioned having students meet in non-traditional locations such as coffee shops and community centers in order to bring the community into the conversation plus considering co-working spots, which could serve as incubators and also branch libraries.

Humphrey emphasized that it was important to meet in news venues, in newspaper offices, in broadcast studios, etc.

We discussed a skeletal schedule with the following tentative deadlines: putting together the bare bones of the program by September 30, 2011; assembling a list of all the people interested in volunteering for the Boston Urban Journalism Program by October 30, 2011; putting together an advisory group by December 15, 2011; getting an application and any necessary legal disclaimer forms for parents by March 31, 2012; getting initial funding by May 15, 2012; having applications due by September 1, 2012; finalizing curriculum by October 15, 2012; choosing first class by December 30, 2012; starting program, February 2013.