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A free summer seminar for experienced high school journalism advisers

From the 23 teachers who attended this workshop in July 2019, we have included Solutions Journalism Story Ideas, other Story Ideas for a whole range of topics and Tech Examples of something they learned, many of these for data visualization, plus some resources anyone can use in the future for these topics.

Learning podcasting by doing: reflections of an overly-ambitious adviser

So it turns out that making a podcast is a lot of work.  My initial goal for this blog tonight was to test the digital recorder and microphone that Sue Zake of Kent Sate graciously allowed for me to borrow, create and edit a podcast with it, bada bing- bada boom- export- post on the blog for all to enjoy.  And I will.  It’s coming, but here is what I have learned so far:

The first time we do anything, it’s going to be hard. Online tutorials make editing software look so easy.  Everything seemed to work fine in the workshop.  Then I get my hands on the equipment and EVERYTHING changes.  “This dial is also a button?” “I have to hit a pre-record button to preview sound?”  “There is something called phantom?” “I just ran down a hallway to capture sound without an SD card in the recorder!”

So I work through the glitches.  Teachers let me interview them.  I realize that I need more.  I interview more.  I realize I should probably say something.  I write a script.  I read the script and hate it.  I read it again.

Now all the clips are on my computer.  I have them all lined up in Garage Band, the only sound editor currently on my machine.  It’s eight, almost nine minutes long.  Way too long.  The transitions are choppy.  The pauses are too long.  Do I really need everyone’s LONG story?  Cuts will be made.  It’s time to refine.

This is the point where most teens would just say “Good enough.” Who can really blame them?  How do we help them to understand that it’s not? My favorite art teacher, Roger Hutchison, would constantly tell students that the key to good art is to “refine, refine, refine.”  The same is true with everything.

While this first podcast that I’m producing will still probably fall far from the realm of “good,” by golly, I will have created something.

I’ll leave you with a little inspiration from Ira Glass, host of “This American Life”:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”


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  1. This was so beautifully written and honest. You have captured what I think a lot of our students feel as they try to work through programs and projects we have used for years. I also love the voice in your writing; I felt like I was sitting across the table from you talking about this. Nice job! I can’t wait to hear your final product. Let me know if you want help uploading it to the blog.

  2. I can’t wait to hear your podcast!

    Learning new things usually isn’t easy, and I laughed along with your candid writing of your attempt.