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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.

Closing Reflections on the Workshop

We were asked on the last day to offer our three takeaways form the workshop and I thought that offering my three here as well might be helpful, if only as a matter of personal reflection as I start gearing up the next school year. Because most of you reading this probably aren’t all THAT interested in what my personal takeaways are, I thought I’d also add a few thoughts on how I’ll incorporate these ideas into my newspaper program which will hopefully provide some inspiration.

 Take Away #1: Solutions Journalism
As I said in my last blog entry, Solutions Journalism was a pretty key aspect of this workshop for me. Given my staff’s desire to use journalism as a vehicle for social and institutional change at Berkeley High School, Solutions Journalism provides a framework for how that might be accomplished. We were repeatedly reminded, however, that Solution Journalism, at its best, is really an advanced structure where journalists (student or otherwise) are incorporating the fundamentals of strong reporting with the framework to provide solutions to identified problems. This may prove problematic for me as there is limited opportunity, given the structure of my program, to provide this sort of instruction in fundamentals.

My plan, as it were, is to set up a workshop with my news editors and any interested news writers to teach them the principles of Solutions Journalism in the hope that the editors can take this information back to their stuff to encourage them to adapt these strategies in their writing. I’ll also check in with those editors throughout the schoolwork and hope to have at last one proper Solutions Journalism story by the end of the school year.

Take Away #2: Podcasting
It became a bit of a joke during the workshop that I don’t listen to podcasts. I lack the discipline to focus on audio stories and end up losing the thread of the story and either moving on to other formats or rewinding and re-listening over and over again. That said, my students are VERY interested in podcasting, and the format lends itself well for our desire to improve the content of our website. We’ll need some equipment and a space to record, but these are both solvable problems with the suggestions of Amanda Rabinowitz and the help of more experienced workshop participants (special thanks to Scott Collins for his helpful suggestions).

Take Away #3: The People
Journalism advising can be pretty isolating as one often find themselves at odds with other teachers and administration who don’t always understand the value and structure of providing absolute content decisions to students. It’s been invaluable to network with other journalism and media advisers who all teach in different contexts, but who are always willing to offer suggestions and insight into the challenges unique to our jobs. I’m looking forward to building on these relationships and being able to pay it forward to new journalism advisers.

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