New York Times Trains Local Youth in Blogging Workshop

Posted on 13. Aug, 2009 by in Citizen Network, Hyperlocal

by Mike Reicher

What do you get when seasoned professional journalists train novice teenage bloggers in the tools of the trade? We’ve started to answer that question this summer at The Local, The New York Times’ collaborative blog covering neighborhoods in Brooklyn and New Jersey.

Ready...Set..Blog! student Kaseim Watts (Photo by Tamara Best)

Ready...Set...Blog! student Kaseim Watts (Photo by Tamara Best)

Since launching in March, one of our goals at The Local has been to publish work by contributors from many perspectives in the community. But since the infants of ex-Manhattan moms are still a little too young to blog, The Local sent out word to high school teachers, community leaders, and youth groups that we wanted to recruit neighborhood teenagers interested in journalism.

We didn’t just want to give them a video camera, though, and say shoot. So, the students went through a three-day intensive workshop, called Ready…Set…Blog! Fellow CUNY Graduate School of Journalism student and Local intern Lois DeSocio and I developed the curriculum and led the workshops.

On day one, students learned the basics – how to write a news story, how to conduct an interview, how to sniff out news and a primer on journalistic ethics. The next two days they learned media tools – how to shoot photos and video – and they hit the streets.

Samples of the students’ work, which we’ve already posted on The Local, are available here, here and here. And then there’s this video of a local musician.

In total, we trained 16 students – eight in Brooklyn and eight in New Jersey. For the most part, though, we weren’t doing the teaching. Lois and I recruited volunteer professional journalists and journalism educators who wanted to train teens how to effectively cover their own communities.

Photo by Mike Reicher

Ready...Set...Blog! students taking diligent notes. (Photo by Mike Reicher)

In Brooklyn, Indrani Sen from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who also teaches high school journalism in The Bronx, led the discussion on news values and the elements of a news story. Two local reporters, Jennifer Maloney from Newsday and Sophia Hollander, a freelancer who contributes to The New York Times, taught interviewing and ethics.

Sandra Roa, a grad student at the CUNY J-School who interns at guided the students through the basics of photojournalism, and I led the video seminar.

The next phase of the program is to pair students with reporters from The Local and from The New York Times, so they can work together to produce at least one story this summer. We’re anticipating a range of topics, from youth summer employment to teen violence.

Just last week a group of teenagers allegedly beat a college student into a coma. As many stories tend to do in this neighborhood, it has evolved into a discussion of race and class. This is the type of divisive local issue we’d love to have covered both professionally and from a teen’s perspective.

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2 Responses to “New York Times Trains Local Youth in Blogging Workshop”

  1. Damian Ghigliotty

    13. Aug, 2009

    Great stuff Mike!

  2. Mary McGrath

    17. Aug, 2009

    I’m developing a project with the Boston Public Library and I’d love to know more details about developing a training program like the Times project. Do you know who I would contact?