By Bliss Davis, Multimedia Journalist
I recently read an article about Allbritton Communications’ TBD.com news website and their partnership with American University’s School of Communication for interns, and another between NYU, which will run The Local East Village, a hyperlocal news site for the New York Times.
While the concept of gaining professional experience or familiarizing yourself with a profession isn’t news, it is welcoming to hear news of programs like this gaining ground. Even NABJ recently broadened its converged student media newsroom to include a bootcamp-like for high school students as well as those in higher education. All of these programs have something in common — namely having digital media as either a forefront or major component of their partnerships.
Even with these progressive programs, there is a huge gap in how much journalism students (especially those still in high school) are exposed to professional media. Besides journalism, one of my passions is moving forward with a steady gaze on what’s behind me–for the second half of my college experience I taught journalism at an inner city high school. The school needed journalism teachers and through a special grant project I was brought in along with a few others. My primary reason for doing so was being from the inner city myself, and remembering how my high school’s journalism program was canceled from funding issues.
The joint grant initiative was a meager project and I am barely in the professional journalism realm myself, but our efforts paid off. With the help of professionals and professors, several in the class graduated with a working knowledge of multimedia and a desire to become journalists themselves.
It is much too premature to rave about joint programs of course, but hopefully they take off in other forms. Besides helping raise general interest in the world, there is a growing interest in using non-traditional platforms. After getting their newspaper down the class in the grant program wanted to publish a digital version as well. While still in the works, it will be interesting to see what they come up with in the coming school year.
Taking the focus away from the students, the only way for these hinge programs to continue to be successful depends on professionals who already know the ropes. None if these programs function without the help of someone already familiar with the industry and can only work with pros willing to get their hands dirty.