A day with aspiring journalists

While I try to keep my blog devoted to the amber waves of hair, I wanted to reflect on one of the other major aspects of my life — journalism.

*Full disclaimer: What you are about to read has very little, if nothing, to do stunning scarlet successes.*

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Several weeks ago I was informed that 60-75 high school students would invade one of my journalism classes in order to learn more about the rocky craft of newsmaking. At first I was surprised that people even younger than I would head down the teetering world of journalism, but later I found the field-trip ironic since SF State will soon be closing its doors to any freshman due to budget cuts.

After laughing off the initial irony of inspiring high schoolers to pursue journalism at a school that wouldn’t even accept them, no matter how talented, I would actually have to do something. As Editor-in-Chief of the SF State school paper there was that additional pressure of passing on infectious motivation and inspirational tidbits of wisdom.

Early Tuesday morning I had the pleasure to meet about 10 of the writer/editor/photographers of the Green & Gold paper and was pleasantly impressed with the questions that they had for me. Many of the reporters were asking how to deal with page constraints, story selection and production cycles. In most situations I would be the authority on little more than, well, my redhead expertise (you knew I had to plug it in somewhere, didn’t you?) but here I was able to spout off whatever golden nuggets of brilliance I could muster together to, at least, appear to know what the hell was going on. But frankly all I could think was, “We are in the newsroom and if the [X]press writers and editors could please refrain from cursing too loud or making sexual jokes in front of these teens and their chaperons.”

Thankfully the visitors didn’t hear anything too offensive, that I noticed.

After recuperating from all the ego boosting I got from being so self-important that I would guide nubile minds, I was met with six times as many teens in my opinion writing class.

Our task of the day was to do a “Man on the Street” type of exercise where one class member would bring 1-4 high schoolers out to the campus grounds to get quotes, photos, and/or sound slides about what is on the mind of SF State students.

In all of the elitism and glory of hierarchy (oh, and because there weren’t enough students) I was sadly left without a chosen group to lead bravely into the windy campus grounds. So what’s the next best choice — be an editorial runner between groups. Giving time updates, taking pictures, lending out my camera and generally making sure people knew what the task was. It was surprisingly similar to being EIC.

Some groups seemed to take the reigns more than others and came up with inspired lines of questioning like the differences in San Francisco districts and monetary impacts to college students in an economic crisis. It reminded me of the interviewing basics of allowing the people to guide you to the story rather than the other way around.

Some of these kids showed some serious promise and I hope that some of them will bring that experience into a college publication and hopefully, eventually into the mainstream media.

This day of divination from the newsy norm was a welcome change that made me stop to think about people outside of our campus consume media.

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