Kent State hosts boot camp for 35 journalism teachers

Amber Gallihar

Thirty-five high school teachers from across the nation began the annual American Society of Newspaper Editors workshop at Kent State Monday.

It is more commonly referred to as journalism boot camp by teachers who have previously attended the workshop, said Candace Perkins Bowen, scholastic media coordinator and director of the workshop.

Participants arrived Sunday and were presented with a dinner, an opening reception and banquet.

From July 9-21, the teachers will spend their entire day learning how to improve existing journalism programs, and in some cases establishing a new program entirely.

The teachers also receive free copies of The Plain Dealer and the Akron Beacon Journal in Taylor Hall.

Participants will be staying in single rooms in Centennial B.

The workshops are funded through the ASNE as a part of a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Kent State is among four other host sites that are selected through a highly competitive screening process.

ASNE looks for universities with an accredited journalism school and a strong scholastic media program. The relationships the school has with professional papers in the area is also an important factor.

Kent State has been chosen as a host site every year since the first workshop six years ago, Bowen said.

Participants receive three graduate credits by attending the all-expenses-paid workshop upon successful completion of the program and projects.

“If you look at what they had before they came here, the change is amazing,” Bowen said.

Getting students involved in journalism as early as high school helps them learn if this is the career choice that they truly want to make, she said.

The workshop covers an extensive amount of information over the two-week period, including current issues and concerns in the field of high school publications, such as overcoming censorship, reporting, sources, Web sites, legal issues, InDesign and the future of mass media.

This year’s new topic is podcasting with Judy Rovinson, an expert in its use for education from Florida.

All the hard work also includes some lighter projects such as trips to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and to Porthouse Theatre to see “Our Town.” These trips allow participants to write reviews and take photos.

Bowen said it is important for them to learn how to be an adviser to their students, not an editor. Some of the teachers have a background in journalism, but have never taught it.

“It’s our job to fill in the gaps,” she said.

The participants from the past five years often admitted they have never worked harder or learned more. This year’s group plans to gather tips and tricks and networking ideas to take back to their students in the fall, according to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Web site.

“Participants always go away enthusiastic and ready to go,” Bowen said.

Teachers who have previously attended the workshop stay in touch by serving on evaluation panels and sharing high school publications.

Contact College of Communication and Information reporter Amber Gallihar [email protected].