For four years, the last two weeks of June have become a professionally inspiring time for me.
That’s when the Arizona Republic/azcentral.com and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism team up to sponsor the annual High School Media Innovation Camp, which brings together savvy future journalists with digital kids to imagine what the future of news reporting and broadcasting could be. look like.
This year’s camp begins on Monday, June 21.
The students’ energy and enthusiasm for the First Amendment and for storytelling — and their sheer optimism — makes me excited for the future of our economically struggling industry.
Students receive hands-on instruction from educators at Cronkite School as well as digital innovators from The Republic and our larger USA TODAY network.
Augmented reality, social/TikTok videos, virtual reality, drone coverage, storytelling through games and quizzes are all types of immersive journalism that have been used by students in recent years to examine challenges academics and encounters do’s and don’ts. In 2019, the focus was on gentrifying the Garfield neighborhood of downtown Phoenix.
In a typical year, the two-week summer camp is free and residential. A Republic Sharing Season Education Grant funds the instructors as well as room and board in downtown dorms adjacent to the Cronkite School. Evening activities include Diamondbacks games and swimming games.
Camp is still free this year, but classes are being held online due to COVID-19 concerns. Students will be asked to tell the story of climate change and income inequality in their backyard.
Journalists in The Republic’s newsroom are innovating every day – finding ways to best tell the stories of our community in words, images and experiences, whether through podcasts, videos or events live. At the heart of it all is fair and accurate reporting, which HSMIC students also attend.
Retha Hill, who leads the Cronkite School’s Innovation Lab, explained it this way:
“Ultimately, we need communicators with a different skill set. … New tools allow journalists to explain events – such as the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill or the shooting at a protest in Wisconsin – in a whole new way,” she said.
“We couldn’t easily do that years ago, and it’s still pretty daunting for most newsrooms,” Hill said. “It’s important that journalists and journalism education not only know about these trends, but be at the forefront of democratizing the knowledge and tools to create this kind of content.”
Print-only news started sharing space with digital, social and more sophisticated platforms a long time ago. Wouldn’t it be great if one of the students at this summer’s High School Media Innovation Camp came up with what’s new and what’s next?
Each week in this space, we focus on the giving back efforts of the Republic and other Greater Phoenix groups. To be considered, email Community Relations Manager Stacy Sullivan at [email protected] or call 602-444-8749.