The inaugural class of The Record’s Youth in Journalism Workshop received its final lesson Friday, July 30, after a two-week course in Wilmette.
Six area students completed the program, which was funded by New Trier Township and led by instructor Marco Santana and The Record Editor in Chief Joe Coughlin.
Over the 10 days, the students learned journalistic lessons to boost their knowledge of the industry, whether they wish to pursue a journalism career or just better understand the reporting process.
“The workshop has been the most eye-opening experience for me as a student of journalism,” wrote Azhley Rodriguez, a rising junior at Dominican University, who took the workshop. “I learn the basics in college, but hearing from other people who are actual journalists — whether they’re freelance writers, or non-profit starters, or even editors — it has really helped broaden my view on what life as a journalist would entail.”
The program was open to ages 16-22, and it was free to apply. All accepted students were given a $200 stipend to offset any work hours potentially taken by the workshop.
Each day, the instructors reviewed a different concept of journalism. Students received lessons in: interviewing, news and feature writing, ethics, communications law, investigative reporting, beat reporting, and business models (for-profit, nonprofit, co-op, etc.).
The daily lessons sometimes included active writing and group editing, but then always moved into a flexible format in which Santana would host an open conversation, seeking comments and questions from the class.
“I enjoyed the program because of the instructor’s abilities to make it interactive, fun, and an environment for asking questions,” said Said Aydin, a participant and New Trier High School student, in an email. “I thought being able to ask questions allowed me to explore journalism on my own through my curiosity. Also, the activities really helped me get more experience as a journalist and taught me valuable information.”
Industry professionals were also brought in to meet and speak with the class. Attorney Jennifer Gordon, who is the president of The Record’s board of directors, explained First-Amendment rights and journalist protections; Shamus Toomey, editor-in-chief of Block Club Chicago, spoke about beat reporting and nonprofit journalism; and Record staff members Martin Carlino, Megan Bernard and intern Alyane Trinko also made appearances.
To cap the workshop on Friday, July 30, famed sports commentator J.A. Adande — another member of The Record’s board of directors — spent 45 minutes answering questions from the students on everything from developing sources to confidence on camera to memorable events.
“I enjoyed the practicality of this workshop,” wrote participant Charlotte Calkins, a New Trier High School student. “We got great tips about the academic side of journalism … but what I found most useful was the advice from real, experienced journalists about what it’s like in the field.
“As someone who is considering journalism as a possible career path but isn’t quite sure yet, advice about how to start your career and insights about the future of journalism were extremely valuable.”
According to Coughlin, the new program is part of The Record’s continued community-outreach efforts and it fits The Record’s mission of enabling more understanding news consumers
“Marco and the students were incredible,” he said. “The class was engaged and curious and led important discussions about journalism.
“The workshop was about opening doors, both by shedding a light on what we do and how and why we do it and giving opportunities to any young journalist who is looking for one. I can’t wait until next year.”
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