We had one of our best student journalist boot camps ever! Many thanks to the professionals who volunteered their day off to share their expertise with our students, who came from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, St. Louis University, Lindenwood University, Webster University, Lewis & Clark Community College, Northeastern Illinois University – as far away as Purdue University in Indiana! The panels were lively and students had many questions and a lot of great discussion. They represented a number of student publications, including the Purdue Exponent, SIUE Alestle, Lindenlink, SLU University News, LCCC Bridge and others.
This was our first boot camp since 2019, as we chose not to try to replicate the interactive and energetic boot camp environment on Zoom during the height of the pandemic. The boot camp is co-sponsored by the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists and The Alestle at SIUE, hosted on the SIUE campus courtesy of the Mass Communications Department with many thanks to chairman Dr. Musonda Kapatamoyo. Also thanks to our volunteers, including HD Key of St. Louis University and Jim Gillentine, first gentleman of St. Louis SPJ.
We also thank the national Society of Professional Journalists for its grant that allowed us to relaunch this boot camp and continue to offer it free of charge to the students. While they pay a $10 registration fee when they sign up, it is refunded to them when they arrive (or they can opt to donate it). It’s important to us to continue to offer this boot camp at little to no cost for cash-strapped students so that funds will not be a barrier to education and networking. To find out more about SPJ Chapter Grants, click here.
Danny Wicentowski of St. Louis Public Radio spoke about reporting and interviewing, and later did a breakout session on investigative reporting. Chief Carole Presson of the Highland Police Department ran our mock press conference for the writing contest, and stuck around to answer questions during the Lunch with the Pros segment. Teri Maddox of the Belleville News-Democrat ran a “Journalism Sweet 16” exercise on news judgment and later gave a breakout session on features reporting, and Holly Edgell of the NPR Midwest Newsroom presented “Swiss Army Reporter” on multimedia skills you might need. Other breakout sessions included an overview of the SPJ ethics code and Q&A on freelance reporting by Elizabeth Donald of Donald Media.
The contest stories were sent to a panel of pro-journalist judges off-site and were judged blind (no names or school affiliations). Many congratulations go to our contest winners! Third place went to Joe Duhownik of Purdue University; second place to Marissa Slagle of Purdue University; and first place went to Jeannette Carrington of Lewis & Clark Community College.
We look forward to bringing back the Student Journalist Boot Camp next year!