Laura Howells

Journalism Now conference coordinator, Laura Howells. Photo credit: Bryan Meler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Bryan Meler, RSJ ’19

You could hear journalists anxiously discussing how best to catch the attention of their audiences in any newsroom in the world.

Earlier this month, that’s exactly what a room full of very young journalists – teenagers – were discussing at the Ryerson School of Journalism.

They were some of the high school students from Southern Ontario who produce news websites, newspapers, podcasts and video at their high schools.

The journalism school invited students and their teachers for a day of workshops with professionals and professors to the Toronto High School Journalism Conference on Oct. 11. Students attended from at least 15 different schools from around the GTA.

“I think it’s really important to provide opportunities for young people to get exposure to journalism training,” said Laura Howells (MJ ‘18), who organized the conference. “They need to have a place where they can meet each other, as well as professionals from the field.”

Teodora Gojovic, a 16-year-old student from Richview Collegiate Institute’s newspaper, says the best part of the conference was learning from publications about how they made a name for themselves.

“This conference has made me rethink about applying to journalism,” said Gojovic, who writes for her school paper, the Richview Voice. “It peaked my interest more than I thought it would.”

The opening panel included writers Stefanie Phillips and Brent Smyth, who were responsible for breaking the story about bed bugs at Ryerson in the spring. They described how they reported the story for The Eyeopener, Ryerson’s independent student newspaper, while telling students they shouldn’t be afraid to pressure their own institutions.

Throughout the day, students attended workshops such as reporting with 360-degree virtual reality to how to control fake news.

Ming Wong, assistant art director at the Globe and Mail, who led the session “10 ways to make a good-looking newspaper,” explored both print and online design, while offering her own advice to students who brought in their school papers.

“If I went to a conference like this one in high school, it would have given me a clearer idea of what is out there,” said Wong, who’s the assistant art director at the Globe and Mail. “I wanted to show [the students] that journalism is accessible.”

Howells said the conference is just the first step in a plan to connect people and build a network of online and in-person resources and for high school journalists who are often producing news media in isolation from other schools.