Sunday, July 08, 2007

Diverse group arrives for MJW 2007

Diversity of places, diversity of people and diversity of experiences are just three ways to describe the 17 students who make up the cohort of high school students attending the 2007 Multicultural Journalism Workshop here at the University of Alabama.

This is the first in a series of postings over the next 10 days from “MJW,” as the program is affectionately called. I’ll be among the faculty members working with this talented group selected from the nearly 200 inquiries the University initially received about the workshop that is in its 24th year of existence.

I'm planning to use this particular blog posting as a "teaching tool" tomorrow (Monday) as I'm talking about multimedia and multi-platform reporting. You'll notice I have NO QUOTES and a lot of first names in this posting, two characteristics of the first-person, casual writing style of many bloggers.

During tonight’s opening banquet and orientation on the University campus, I had a chance to meet all 17 students and hear about some of their experiences and backgrounds.

I think I probably connected in some way with most of them. There was Alex from Montgomery who is attending the workshop after just completing the tenth grade at Montgomery’s Booker T. Washington Magnet High School just a few blocks from the Alabama State Capitol.

I remember being in the tenth grade when I attended UJW, the Urban Journalism Workshop in at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. in 1986.

Like Alex, I had not done much journalism writing, but was just simply loved to write.

Then there was the “ATL” crew, the three students from Metro Atlanta, where I lived for two years and worked for five as a news producer at WXIA-TV’s “11 Alive News.”

One student is a rising junior at Grady High School, which shares the name “Henry Grady” with my alma mater, the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Grady High School is a magnet program for communication while The Westminister Schools is home to an athlete attending our workshop. Carrington Jackson plays basketball, football and tennis. Now he’s going to add newswriting to his portfolio.

According to Wikipedia Web site, The Westminster Schools has the largest endowment of any non-boarding secondary school in the United States. The school's expressed mission is "to develop the whole person for college and for life through excellent education."

Closer to home, we have students here from every region of Alabama including the Shoals Area, the Anniston/East Alabama, South Central Alabama (including Selma and Montgomery) and Mobile as well as Sumter County in the far western part of the state.

Did I mention one of our students was part of the scrapbook team that took first place at Alabama’s Beta Club Conventions?

I told Brooke that we know we will have a great scrapbook from the 24th Annual Multicultural Journalism Workshop.

As one who scrapbooks or blogs from every trip I take, I know Brooke from Winston County High in Double Springs, Ala. is going to teach me a thing or two about chronicling one’s experiences.

This year’s class has students from as far away as Camden, South Carolina and as close as Tuscaloosa’s Northridge High School. In fact, I met Adelaide O’Neal at another journalism workshop here on the UA campus just about a year ago. She’s going to the editor of state and regional award-winning Northridge Reporter in the fall.

Some of the students are on a mission—to go back to their high schools and revive or reinvigorate their school papers. Aaron, a student a Cordova High School in Walker County, plans to go back and inspire the rest of his Blue Devil schoolmates to get their newspaper going again.

Aaron is one of three students from the Birmingham Metro area. We also have students from Ramsey High in the City of Birmingham and Briarwood Christian High School.

After spending most of this past academic year working in the Knight Fellows program based at The Anniston Star, it was great to see one from the Anniston-Oxford area. Ashley is a student Faith Christian School.

Several of the students have already learned how to use Adobe InDesign and at least a third of the students brought their own digital cameras.

I can already predict this will be the most visually-skilled of the classes we’ve had in recent years.

Over the next ten days, these students will learn the journalism craft as they put out an edition of Tuscaloosa’s newest community publication, The West End Journal.

No comments: