Recently, 10 students from Arsenal Technical High School took a trip to Chicago to learn about the real world of journalism. All the students were a part of the Cannon Multimedia, the news organization for the school. When they were not able to raise enough money in time to attend the National Scholastic Press Association convention, their advisor Donna Griffin decided to look for a new way for them to learn about the real world.
“I wanted these kids to reap the benefits of the money they helped raise,” she said. “A Chicago trip cut down on costs. We went to Diana Hadley, executive director of the Indiana High School Press Association, who directed me to the McCormick Foundation who helped us to tour media outlets in Chicago.”
Through support from sources including the IPS Education Foundation’s Ella Sengenberger fund, these students were able to spend four days in Chicago learning about what it takes to be a journalist. The students spent a day at Chicago Public Media, where they talked to reporters, toured the Chicago Tribune and got to see the board room where some of the world’s most important people have been interviewed. They got to pitch ideas with young Chicago journalists for Mash, the Tribune’s youth publication, and sat in on a live broadcast at WGN radio.
“They opened up whole facility to us, the entire building, page one, editorial board room, we went down into the old press room, the breaking news room and WGN. Everyone was so nice and patient and sat there and talked and gave good advice just on the fly,” Griffin said.
The students learned what a real day in the life of a journalist is like and how traditional media are learning to adapt with changing technology by taking things online and developing phone apps. Cannon Multimedia has already begun the transition to multimedia, as the students focus on sharing school news through blogging and social media, as well as the student newspaper.
Besides seeing what happens on the inside of the newsroom, these students got a true Chicago experience. They all wrote papers about what they’d want to know from the trip and what stories they thought would be interesting to cover, so the itinerary was planned from there. The students toured Wrigley Field, tried famous Chicago-style pizza and saw a performance of Motown the musical. Overall, it ended up being a “dream trip” for Griffin and Cannon Multimedia students. Most of them are seniors planning to go into a journalism-related field after graduation, so a trip like this is giving them a good start on planning for their future.
Griffin and her students are especially grateful to everyone who helped fund the trip, like the IPSEF’s Ella Sengenberger Fund. She said, “I think Ella Sengenberger would be really happy that students are out there pursuing that dream of journalism, even though it’s a tough time. It was really her funds and money that allowed us to do some of our activities and it is great to have that support.”