Kids can build journalism skills at Montclair Y (Town Square)
By JAIME BEDRIN
Special to Montclair Local
I love teaching journalism at Montclair State University, so when Montclair Local asked if I wanted to lead a summer journalism boot camp for younger students at the Montclair Y, I jumped at the idea. I believe in a free press and I want future generations to continue to give a voice to the voiceless. Clearly, I’m not alone.
During the first summer of the pandemic a group of parent volunteers decided to get kids reporting and writing. We thought it would help provide some cheer for the youngsters – and get them off their screens. I had recently wrapped up an after-school journalism enrichment class at Charles H. Bullock School, where we produced the inaugural issue of the CHB Buzz. So when Montclair doughnut guru and marathon runner Rachel Wyman suggested a larger publication for kids by kids I knew I wanted to be involved.
Several other parent volunteers, including Andrew Rice, Jen Saba, Sara Holliday, Aaron Task and Georgia Kral joined in and worked hard to get this thing started.
We ended up raising more than $5,000 and self-publishing a 20-plus page newspaper in which all the stories were reported by kids for kids. We also included poetry, Q&As and original artwork. The project was a huge success. So much so that we decided to reach out to Montclair Local and publish stories on a regular basis on a page dedicated to Montclair Kids. We called it Montclair Kids News.
Now we’re taking our program one step further by offering a two-week training bootcamp July 18 - 28. In my course, we’ll explore how an idea becomes a news story. We’ll start by learning the elements of any news story by reading and dissecting various news sources. We will talk about answering the 5Ws: the who, what, when, where and why. We will brainstorm ideas for stories and talk about what kind of visuals we can include in reporting. We’ll practice our interviewing skills and study leads, “nut grafs” and kickers. Local journalists will “drop by” and talk about what a career in journalism is and can be like.
Sound like something your child might be interested in? The camp runs July 18-28. The cost is $400 for the two weeks. Go to montclairymca.org to sign up.
Jaime Bedrin is a Montclair resident, a journalist and a member of the adjunct faculty at Montclair State University.