Next week I will be speaking to the students of the West Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative about online journalism and the future of news.
The West Bronx Youth Journalism Initiative is a weekly program offered to sophomores, juniors or seniors from Bronx high schools.
Students will learn the fundamentals of writing, reporting, and photojournalism through classroom instruction but, more importantly, through hands-on reporting in their own neighborhoods. We will take them on field trips – including the newsroom of a daily newspaper. They will learn about community activism and civic responsibility, how their neighborhoods work (or don’t), who has power, who doesn’t and why.
I’m nervous, because I’m really horrible at public speaking. But also because I have no idea what these kids know.
What’s the level of computer/Internet proficiency? Do they have access to computers at home? Do they read news online, have blogs, read blogs?
James Fergusson, the program coordinator and Editor of the Mount Hope Monitor, has told me that they have not discussed online journalism in class.
I got some great advice from Mindy McAdams, who told me not to assume that the kids are technologically ignorant. Even if they don’t have computers at home, the public libraries offer free access.
I can probably spend a few minutes at first figuring out what they know without looking like a total hack. The problem is how to adjust what I want to say to their level. After beating college reporters over the head with the “good news” for two semesters, I’m not sure how to condense the message to half an hour.
Any advice? What should these high-schoolers know about online journalism? What do I tell them about the future of news?