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Of all the prized possessions I hang in my classroom, a 4 x 6 grey and white photo with curled corners and a pin hole at the top has center stage. It was taken by two of my journalism students in 2001 on a trip to the Newseum. “I know of no human being who has a better time than an eager and energetic young reporter.” – HL Mencken. Those words are the only images in the photo. In 11 years of teaching and advising high school journalists and 18 years as a reporter, editor and newspaper owner, Mencken’s words have only been confirmed. During this week at the Indiana High School Journalism Institute I get to be that eager and energetic (if not all that young) reporter as I navigate through the latest morphing of the journalistic profession – multimedia. As someone who started on VDTs in the early 1980’s, technology and I have had a veritable love/hate relationship. Ask my husband – I cried (mostly in frustration) when he gave me a mouse and said “it really is easier.” That was probably 1992 and I was sitting in front of the very first Mac I owned – suffice it to say I figured out a way and my love affair with technology and my husband, with 31 years of marriage, continues. From cut and paste to Pagemaker and InDesign, from PMTs and Pentax K1000s to flip cameras, Youtube and podcasts this latest digital revolution is energizing, enlightening and encouraging to this veteran teacher and reporter. We are still gathering, reporting and sharing information – it’s much more democratic – more voices can be heard. We are still just sitting around the proverbial campfire, across the back fence or on the front porch chatting with neighbors and telling our stories. My students had better be ready to join the conversation. I know I am.

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2 thoughts on “A week at HSJI – the backstory

  1. I like your analogies of thinking about sharing information/stories/ideas/questions around the campfire or across the backyard fence. Some are resisting joining the conversation about the present and future of the media and information exchange because they are focused on the delivery method itself and not the goal(s) of the information exchange. I also like your post as a good way of introducing yourself. – Julie

  2. The key word (among many) in your post is “energizing.” Obviously, there is something electric about the electronic devices we (educators and our students) might have. I’m not alluding to the allure of gadgetry, which will inevitably separate publications that have the newest equipment from those that don’t–the capitalistic vein of any democratic system. I’m talking about how energizing a great idea can be, and technologies are, like best practices or a provocative column or a riveting novel, the products of great ideas.

    Also, the democratic virtues of journalism suggest that the best equipment is far from a guarantee that the publication’s quality will be high, like a “Taj Ma-high school” with projectors hanging from every ceiling and a laptop on every student’s desk do not guarantee that students will master academic standards.

    And there’s the rub: As journalism educators, we might feel like we’re in the technology crosshairs (i.e. we’re trying to utilize as much of the awesome tools we have at our disposal to help our students learn AND train student journalists how to use the technology (and not fear it) that might be giving us fits). Ultimately, journalism, education and technology are all democratic (and essential to a democracy).

    I’m not sure if this was the sort of response you expected, but I was eager to join the conversation!

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