June 16, 2009

High school students to participate in news camps

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Aspiring broadcast journalists from the Chicago area and East St. Louis will get a glimpse into the profession’s daily rigors at one of two weeklong summer news camps at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Approximately 25 high school students, primarily sophomore and juniors, will attend the camps hosted by the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. The program gives students a basic look into television and broadcast news operations, including reporting, news writing, shooting and editing video, and then presenting their stories during live-to-tape newscasts.

About 14 students are expected at the first camp, June 21- 26. The second camp runs July 19-24. The camps are free. The Department of Radio-Television, and WSIU, along with the college, are sponsoring the camps. The Illinois Broadcasters Association also contributed $10,000.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the students and their camp experiences. For more information and to arrange times, contact Jim Gee at 217/369-8755.

Jim Gee, news director for WSIU-TV’s River Region Evening Edition, and faculty members Joey Helleny and Eileen Waldron are camp instructors. Mark Wetstein, television production coordinator with WSIU Public Broadcasting, and current radio-television students, will provide campers with studio experience.

Some students already have some mass communication curriculum available at their high schools that the camp will allow them to take advantage of, Gee said. Others might seek out local opportunities based on what they learn, and when they do attend college, they are a little better prepared.

The students spend the first two days primarily in the classroom learning the aspects of newsgathering, writing and production. Many will learn there are more positions in television news than just reporters who stand behind a microphone or anchor broadcasts. Other newsroom positions include assignment editors, producers and studio camera operators The campers will also receive hands-on experience with the video camera and practice editing.

On the third day, students begin shooting pre-arranged stories, primarily on campus. Two or three students will work as a team on the same story. Students will create their own one-and-one-half to two-minute story package with the duplicate video, while individually writing and editing their story.

On Fridays, students participate in news broadcasts. Students will later receive a DVD of their individual stories, the news broadcast, and photos taken during the camp. While on campus students stay in residence halls through University Housing and participate in a variety of activities.

“Technology has rapidlychanged the way news is being gathered, reported and received by the consumer,”says Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association. “Thanks to the Foundation arm of our association supportingthese summer camps,participating studentswho may becontemplating a career in broadcast journalism will havea great opportunitytosee justhow the broadcast industry isembracing thesenew technologiestobetter cover and report the news.”

“The IBA Foundation’s support for a second year of SIU Summer News Camps was an easy decision, based on the overwhelming success of last year's camps,” IBA Foundation Chairman Russ Withers said. “We applaud SIUC’sCollege of Mass Communication and Media Arts for the creationofthisoutstanding vehicle in introducing potential broadcasters of tomorrow tothe ever-changing worlds of broadcast journalism today.”

The IBA involvement through its foundation is critical in underwriting camp expenses, Gee said. Transportation costs to and from SIUC are the camper’s responsibility.

“We couldn’t do it without their support,” Gee said. “Without having the IBA help cover the meal and housing costs it would be prohibitive for many of the students to come here. We are fortunate there is a group like the Illinois Broadcasters Association that has a similar mission to what we do. They have been a long supporter of SIUC and universities, in general.”

The camp is a concentrated version of what Gee said he enjoys about his job, working with students. He also enjoys seeing the high school students “kind of get a taste of what their future holds as far as a college experience.”

At some point during the week, students have what Gee refers to as an, “ah-ha moment,” where their excitement is magnified with the realization they are beginning to understand the intricacies and work involved with television news broadcasting.

The camps also serve as a recruiting mechanism for the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts’ nationally recognized radio-television program. A few students who attended camps the first two years later enrolled at SIUC to concentrate on radio-television, Gee said.

“It certainly gives these students an opportunity to see what we can do here so when they go out and look at other universities they can already compare the facilities, and the program we do have here,” he said.