“All the Young Dudes, Carry the News.”

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Posted Thu, Jul 28, 2016

Youth Journalism Day is sponsored every summer by the Denver Post as a “one-day, intense and fun learning experience for kids. [Photo: Derek Gregory]

Youth Journalism Day is sponsored every summer by the Denver Post as a “one-day, intense and fun learning experience for kids. [Photo: Derek Gregory]

Youth Journalism Day on the MSU Campus

DENVER, Auraria Campus – It’s a beautiful July weekday morning on campus and several large groups of children have gathered around the tables inside St. Cajetan’s Church at the Auraria campus for Youth Journalism Day.

Youth Journalism Day is an educational opportunity for children, ages 8-13, where they learn about the fundamentals of good journalism from local Colorado professionals at the Denver Post, the Aurora Sentinel and Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Guest speakers share their perspectives about working in the field, and the children participate in small group activities, led by adult volunteers, in the creation of their own stories for the Post’s Yourhub.com/nextgen site. A handful of those stories will appear in the online edition of the Denver Post on Tuesday.

Gabriel Christus knows a thing or two about taking a good picture. As a freelance photojournalist, he has shot celebrity athletes, Denver area politicos and even a returning American soldier who met his year-old son for the first time, under the flash. So when Christus leans in to speak as 75 youth journalists scribble notes and take pictures of their own – it is safe to say he has their full attention.

Students asked guest speakers to share their perspectives about working in the field, [Photo: Derek Gregory

Students ask guest speaker Gabriel Christus to share his perspective about working journalism. [Photo: Derek Gregory

“Look for the light in a dark room,” he advises, gesturing towards the morning sun, coming in through the windows. His advice is both practical and metaphorical, and none of it is dumbed-down for the sake of his students.

Just before lunch, Dana Coffield, business editor at the Denver Post, approaches the podium to speak on feature writing and reviews. Her advice is centered on the kinds of news stories children are already familiar with – travel, music, food and video games. It is clear that she is speaking their language.

Early on, she drops a very specific warning about the art of writing a great review, when she cautions the eager learners that hating or loving something is not enough to make for an interesting feature. Questions ring out from the tables throughout her talk, and Coffield wades in to meet the children at their level. True to form, she almost always has a follow-up question for the young learner.

“What are you writing about now?” she asks one, who is wondering whether her story idea is newsworthy. Coffield listens carefully and then offers up a bit of solid advice about knowing your readers, when she advises the young writer to “be thinking about your audience. Don’t write about things that are irrelevant to them.” It is sage advice for older writers as well.

Coffield wraps her talk, and the children form up for a group photograph before taking a box-lunch outside. She is friendly and engaging, whether speaking before the capacity crowd of young journalists and assorted adult volunteers and facilitators, or one-on-one. When asked what surprised her most about working directly with young learners, her answer was quick, and on point. “I was surprised how sophisticated they are. Some of their questions were really smart.”

If the level of interaction between the adult speakers and the children is a barometer for the future of journalism in Denver, (and beyond) we are in very good hands.

Check out Youth Journalism Day at the Auraria Campus, from the perspective of the children, at www.yourhub.com/nextgen and in the Colorado Kids section of the online edition of the Tuesday Denver Post.

Derek Gregory

About Derek Gregory

Derek Gregory is a Denver-area freelance writer, and blogs for TinyTable3.com.

View all posts by Derek Gregory

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