Youth Journalism Day: This Is On the Record

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Posted Sun, Jul 23, 2017

Budding young journalists preparing to take MSU Denver’s Kip Wotkyn’s writing challenge. [Photo: Shaun Hogan]

DENVER, Auraria Campus – Youth Journalism Day is part of a Denver Post program that provides 8 to 14-year-old students practical experience in a variety of journalism fields.

This is the second year that this educational event has been hosted on the MSU Denver campus, although it is part of a larger educational program that has been around for nearly 20 years.

Dana Plewka helps organize and run the event as part of her role as the educational services and youth content manager for the Denver Post and three other Colorado newspapers. The goal of the event is to provide students with a full day of intensive journalism experience.

After the event, students are encouraged to apply to be a youth reporter where their work will be posted on the Denver Post’s youth journalism website. Some of the best articles are then selected for digital publication in the Denver Post’s Colorado Kids Tuesday section.

Students are selected to participate through an application process by which they each submit a writing sample, a letter of recommendation, and an essay explaining why they want to be a part of the program.

One of the program’s objectives is to work with students to help them hone their writing skills.

“We mentor them as writers throughout the year,” Plewka says, adding that the students become better writers throughout their involvement and participation during the program.

Two future journalists listen intently to guest speakers. [Photo: Bob Amend]

Sadly though, enrollment is down this year, which Plewka attributes to the youth stories only being published online. “Even though these students are so connected electronically, there’s something about being seen in print,” she said.

As a result, Plewka has found new ways to keep kids interested and engaged in the program by sending PDF versions of the digitally published stories to the students’ schools, publishing posts on Facebook, really anything to help get these junior journalists recognition for their hard work.

Cara Dulin, 15, participated in the youth journalism program from 2013 to 2015 prior to turning 14, the ‘age-out’ or retirement age for the program, but she was on hand as a volunteer at today’s event. “It gave me the confidence to interview people and ask tough questions,” Dulin says about her participation in the program, and what she thought had the biggest impact on her.

According to Plewka, how to shake hands, and how to look someone in the eyes, are just a couple of the key skills taught while students learn how to interview people.

Beyond some of the soft skills needed in journalism though, the youth journalism program gets students engaged in hands on ways that are often lost through social media and digital technology.

To that end, Plewka has a great deal of optimism given the historic events that have surrounded the last year of news and the bounty of topics to report on.

“What a great year to be teaching civics and why you need to be involved in your community.”

For more information about Youth Journalism Day visit:

https://nieonline.com/coloradonie/youth_journalism.cfm

 

About Shaun Hogan

Shaun Hogan is a Denver-area writer and journalist

View all posts by Shaun Hogan

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