High schoolers learn multiplatform journalism at summer J-Camp

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High school students interested in a journalism career were in luck, thanks to a summer opportunity provided by the Center for Innovation in Media.

The Center, which is part of the College of Media and Entertainment, offered a five-day, multiplatform journalism workshop from July 13-17 in the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building. This was the fourth J-Camp held since 2015.

The camp was again directed by center director Val Hoeppner, who started the program and has kept it going with the assistance of colleagues such as Christine Eschenfelder, Dan Eschenfelder and Chris Bacon, among others.

“I came in knowing that I wanted to do a high school camp because I wanted to just get more young people involved in journalism,” said Hoeppner, who also serves as executive director of WMOT Roots Radio 89.5, the university’s 100,000-watt professional radio station housed inside Bragg.

Hoeppner’s background includes work in digital, mobile and multiplatform journalism for more than 15 years, and she’s also an MTSU instructor. The camp allows the university to expose the motivated campers to MTSU facilities and programs just as they’re determining where to begin their higher education journeys.

“We wanted to recruit new students to the College of Media and Entertainment,” said Hoeppner about the added benefits of hosting the camp on campus. “We’ve had at least one, if not two or three, students who the next fall became students here.”

Some students even come back to the camp a second year to gain more knowledge and experience.

“One of our best writers on Sidelines is Eric Goodwin; he was in my very first J-Camp,” said Hoeppner, referring to MTSU’s student-run news website. The Center for Innovation in Media combines the newsrooms for Sidelines; WMTS-FM, the student radio station; Match Records, the student record label; and MT10 News, the student-operated cable television station.

Campers learned about news basics and new media platforms each day, then tackled hands-on assignments in the field with camp instructors. At week’s end, campers posted videos, photos and written stories online to showcase their multimedia projects.

Central Magnet High School student Moyin Onafowokan was eager to be a part of this year’s Innovation J-Camp at MTSU because she knew there would be “new.”

“(I) learned a lot of things, like (how to) use a (stick) mic and how to just operate a camera,” said the 14-year-old Rutherford County resident, who was among 15 students attending the 2018 J-Camp.

J-Camper Karina Rovey, a 17-year-old student at Page High School in Franklin, Tennessee, isn’t quite sure what she wants to be when she’s older, but as she snapped pictures in the Center for Innovation in Media, she noted how the program can help campers “figure out what you want to do in college.”

Caryn Tramel, now an MTSU sophomore majoring in video and film, participated in the program’s inaugural year and is now a program mentor, helping out with the different groups throughout the week.

“We pretty much did what they’re doing now, just like learning how to use the camera, taking photos, (and) learning what a story was,” Tramel said.  “We’re not pushing them to do anything but kind of like guiding them, and some of them already have these skills, so it’s cool to see them throughout the week get more confident in their skills.”

For the camp, Hoeppner also has a partnership with Canon, which provides camera equipment for campers to allow a better hands-on learning experience with current technology. Along with these tools, Hoeppner provides scholarships for some students.

“I wanted to make J-Camp as diverse as possible, so I offer three diversity scholarships every year,” she said.

The Innovation J-Camp will be held again next year during the second full week of July. For more information or to register, visit http://innovationjcamp.org/about-innovation-j-camp/.

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Categories: News, Students

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