On Friday, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism hosted High School Journalism Day, inviting 115 high school students from nine different high schools in the Los Angeles area.
The biannual event, which is in its fourth year, began as an initiative of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists in collaboration with Jaime Carias, the Annenberg Civic Engagement Coordinator. The event has expanded to include the National Association for Black Journalists and the Annenberg Latino Student Association.
The agenda included an introduction by Willow Bay, the director of Annenberg, a keynote speech by KABC-TV news anchor and USC alum Marc Brown, and a variety of smaller workshops on a plethora of journalism and communication techniques.
Barbara Estrada, a senior studying broadcast and digital journalism, is the founder and former president of the USC NAHJ.
“After establishing NAHJ, I thought, ‘OK, we need to give back,’” Estrada said. “It’s a great way for us to get to know our community and the South L.A. communities.”
Estrada helped to lead a workshop called “The Power of Social Media Storytelling,” with Dimelo, a media organization started at Annenberg for Latino audiences.
Carias credited Estrada with the idea for High School Journalism Day and is thrilled with the program’s continued growth and sustainability.
“We are able to expose youth to media and journalism and have them go home knowing it’s possible for them to pursue a career in media,” Carias said. “A lot of students are from two miles away, but they’ve never stepped foot on campus. To expose them to what we do at Annenberg and to see them walk into our TV studio and say ‘Wow,’ is really meaningful to me.’”
Nicole Slack, a high school senior from Dorsey High School, is now considering majoring in journalism after touring the Annenberg Media Center.
“I had taken a filmmaking class, but I didn’t know about how much time radio or broadcasting took,” Slack said. “I didn’t know anything about how the marketing works. I felt like today I got more inside knowledge about everything that goes into journalism.”
Alan Mittelstaedt, associate professor of professional practice of journalism, led a workshop called “Journalism Starts with You” in conjunction with Noorhan Maamoon, a junior majoring in print and digital journalism. They emphasized the accessibility of journalism in the age of technology.
“If you don’t feel completely comfortable practicing journalism, that’s okay,” Mittelstaedt said. “Our job is to push you out of your comfort zone.”
At the end of the presentation, Mittelstaedt gave students the opportunity to submit a piece to him about the impact of President Donald Trump’s policies in their community.
“Toward the end of the presentation, there is usually a half dozen students who tell really compelling stories about things going on in their communities, and I say, ‘You’ve got to write about that,’” Mittelstaedt said.
April Barrillas, a high school senior Manual Arts High School, serves as editor-in-chief of her school newspaper. She hopes to study zoology and wildlife in college, but would like to to use the journalistic skills she has learned later in her life.
“I want to tell people about how their actions affect the community and how we’re destroying animal habitats. I believe people should know more about it,” Barrillas said. “I wasn’t initially interested in [journalism] but now I’m in it, I understand all the research and interviews that go into a story.”