High school teachers visit Kent State to learn journalism

Michelle Bender

Twenty-eight high school teachers from around the country will be at Kent State through Friday for a two-week workshop focusing on journalism education.

The workshop was put together by the American Society of Newspaper Editors through a grant from the Reynolds foundation, which grants money nationally for journalism and other fields. The teachers will receive three graduate credit hours and live on campus in Johnson Hall with all expenses paid.

“A large proportion of people who come to this workshop are people who realize there are gaps in their knowledge,” scholastic media coordinator Candace Perkins Bowen said. “They really want to make themselves better so they can do a better job advising their students and working with them.”

Bowen said a lot of the time journalism teachers and media advisers in high school are just given the job and don’t necessarily have the background or skills they need.

“The workshop really gives them the ability to be experts of law and journalism and ethics,” said Mark Goodman, professor and Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism. “They can respond from a position of knowledge that helps them succeed.”

Goodman said high school teachers who are made into media advisers for their high school’s newspaper have very little support when they need to be prepared for challenges. He said more high school publications are being threatened by censorship than ever before.

“So often high school journalism teachers are the lone rangers in their school,” Bowen said. “They are the only one who does this kind of stuff.”

Bowen said the most important thing for the teachers to take back to their high schools is the knowledge of how to advise a publication that belongs to their students. She said this workshop will help the teachers be the most effective advisers.

“The students need to learn to use their voice,” Bowen said. “They need to be as up on every aspect of media as possible to help them do that.”

Five universities throughout the country are chosen to host the workshop every year. Bowen said Kent State was chosen because of a good balance between classroom and newsroom professionals.

“ASNE likes the fact that we can balance that kind of training for the teachers,” Bowen said.

During their stay, the teachers will be lectured about everything from legal issues to podcasting. Writers from publications such as the Akron Beacon Journal, the Canton Repository and the Washington Post as well as Kent State faculty members will talk about different topics, including feature writing, story coaching and interviewing.

“The workshop gives me a better perspective on how I can lead my students in producing a quality student newspaper that will appeal to students, parents and the community,” said Sheri Carter, a business teacher from Pearl High School in Pearl, Miss.

Bowen said another reason this workshop is important is because it provides a pipeline of potential journalism majors. She said it helps students who work on or receive high school publications become more media literate.

“The ones who get a really effective experience in high school are the ones who tend to see what journalism really is and go on in the future,” Bowen said.

Goodman said the workshop can improve high school journalism in the future.

“The workshop will help ensure high school media advisers who understand journalism at its best and who are truly experts in the field,” Goodman said.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Michelle Bender at [email protected].