American University’s (AU) Discover the World of Communication program, developed by the School of Communication’s Sarah Menke-Fish and taught by various faculty each summer, combines forces with the National Student Leadership Conference to teach students from all over the world about journalism, scriptwriting, photography, broadcasting, gaming, music entertainment and public speaking as well as leadership.
About 400 students participate in Washington at AU, and more than 100 are enrolled in the West Coast location, the University of California-Berkeley. The 2015 Washington program runs from mid-June to mid-July and the 2015 California workshops are in early August. The hallmarks of the program: engagement and immersion.
In the journalism workshops, students write news and feature stories. In the first session this year, they took several field trips to news outlets (including NBC studios) and got hands-on practice in interviewing throughout the Metro area to write articles for our website, the Teen Observer (teenobserver.com). This year, we also met with the director of the Student Press Law Center in the Washington, D.C., program.
At Berkeley, we visit area newsrooms and meet with professional reporters, too. In 2014, that included a trip to the San Francisco Chronicle, where students heard from Allen Matthews, deputy managing editor; Stephanie M. Lee, a reporter who covers technology and also has written about health and medical issues; and David Perlman, the dean of science journalism. Lee shared with students how she found her idea for a story on Americans shopping for surrogates overseas and how she pitched and then developed this project into two weeks of travel in India with a San Francisco couple. She wrote her story as a narrative in chapters. Perlman shared that he was working on a story coming out of one of Stanford latest inventions. This year, students again sat in on a news meeting led by Editor in Chief Audrey Cooper and did a Q&A afterward with Matthews.
In 2015 and 2016, the Chronicle visits continued, with students sittin gin on the morning news meetings and meeting with reporters and editors afterward.
High-school journalists in the Berkeley Sportswriting class took a tour of the Cal radio station, KALX 90.7 FM, in 2015, with the assistant sports director, David Straub, below center, who talked about his love of hockey and how he grew his research skills to now cover Cal’s football, basketball and baseball games on-air.
Newswriting students in the Berkeley program interviewed vendors, shoppers, musicians and entertainers at the Berkeley downtown farmers’ market and met with Kimberly Veklerov, the editor in chief and president of The Daily Californian.
Whether they participate on the East Coast or West Coast, students learn how important it is to research a story and get the data and the details that indicate you’re a professional. They practice notetaking in order to capture accurate quotes. And they work together to take pictures for each other’s stories and to collaborate on the writing. They learn how to upload their stories to their website, built using the WordPress content-management system, and to tag them for easier discovery by search engines.
They learn how it important it is to read and to listen, and in doing so, how to get people to open up and have meaningful conversations with them.