ITC Students Prepare to Become Journalists through Syracuse Journalism Lab
Published on 10/20/21
District News ITC
“I would love to work in journalism because I love the art of storytelling and language,” ITC junior Serenity Baxter shared.
Serenity and her classmates in the ITC Digital Multimedia 300 class are preparing to become published – and professional – journalists, thanks to a new partnership called the Syracuse Journalism Lab!
The lab, in partnership with the Syracuse Press Club, Syracuse University, The Stand Newspaper, and the ITC Media Program, is intended to extend beyond class time and equip ITC media students with the tools they’ll need to work in Syracuse as published journalists.
Each Friday, students gather in the ITC Media Lab. Spectrum News and Report for America reporter Camalot Todd, as the Lab’s lead mentor, visits to teach journalism basics. In the 20 classes, student journalists will learn about writing ledes, using the inverted pyramid of news writing, vocabulary and more. They will learn how journalistic writing differs from other writing, how to cope with covering hard stories, and have discussions about representation in media, bias, ethics and more.
“The lessons are a mix of pragmatic, need-to-know skills that any journalist should have and softer skills that are just as important to success like communication, introspection, preventing burnout and navigating an industry that still needs to grow to truly serve the entire community,” Ms. Todd explained. “Journalism schools and the industry often fail to prepare young journalists for all the challenges the job entails. This includes how much trauma journalists —especially younger journalists from backgrounds that were typically stonewalled from the newsroom— face. I hope that I can help prepare these students not only for their first media job, but also how to create a kinder, brighter future for themselves. I want them to know that the story written for them isn't the story they have to live. They can change the narrative.”
For Serenity, who hopes to become a journalist, author, and language interpreter, participating in the Journalism Lab has revived her passions.
“My experience with Syracuse Journalism Lab has been amazing!” she said. “I’ve learned so many things already, which have given me insights on the media industry. Mr. Newell and Camalot Todd have helped me so much. In trying times, they have been fuel to the fire within me, and that’s so much more than I could ask for.”
Sammi McGiveron said the exposure to Camalot and more information about the field of journalism has expanded her career possibilities.
“When applying to ITC’S Media program three years ago, my main interest was photography,” she said. “I sit here today and consider journalism or film as a career too! Working with Camalot and Mr. Newell has opened up the idea of photojournalism. Working with Syracuse Journalism Lab has provoked important dialogue and has already helped me improve my writing and given me the motivation to evaluate myself and my values.”
Classmate Nathaniel Teska-Prince said connecting with a mentor with industry knowledge and shared interests has been invaluable.
“I have enjoyed learning how to distinguish hard and soft news and how different stories are designed,” he explained. “I hope I will learn more professionalism skills and how to develop a smoother on-camera personality. It has been great working with Camalot, because she is interested in what interests me. She is a constructive voice in my workspace.”
That shared understanding – creating an opportunity for the voice of Syracuse students to be more accurately represented in the media – was one of the program’s main objectives.
“What is most exciting about this initiative is that it is giving students from the city of Syracuse the tools they need to be a part of the future of our local journalism industry, which will give local journalism a first-person perspective about what it's like to grow up in Syracuse and go to school in Syracuse City Schools,” ITC Media Communications teacher Jeff Newell said.
As students progress through the program, one of the goals is to help students become published professionally later this year in print and multimedia formats. We’re proud of these ITC students for participating, and we appreciate the support of the community partners who are making this effort possible!