Boot camp is postponed

UPDATE: Unfortunately Boot Camp had to be postponed. The new date is Sept. 21, and the links are still good to reserve a spot! 

Join us on Feb. 3 for the St. Louis SPJ Student Journalist Boot Camp! This FREE program offers student journalists the chance to learn new skills and supplement what they’re learning in the classroom with practical workshops taught by working journalists currently employed in the St. Louis region. From the basics of reporting and writing to the most current technical tools, plus breakout sessions on investigative journalism, ethics, features, freelancing and photography, among others!

Attendees will be part of a mock press conference, where an actual police officer will present information about a case. Students will be able to ask questions, and will have a short period of time to write a story. A panel of journalists will judge the stories, and the best examples win Amazon gift cards!

A continental breakfast and pizza lunch will be provided free of charge. Advisors welcome! If you’re an advisor and would like to help out with judging the contest, please contact us at

Among our presenters this year:

• Danny Wicentowski, St. Louis Public Radio. Danny Wicentowski is a producer for St. Louis Public Radio’s St. Louis on the Air. As an investigative reporter, Danny’s coverage this year included dives into the strange circumstances of an FBI raid against a St. Louis community group, and also how a city government used the legal power of “eminent domain” to force the displacement of residents and businesses. In 2020, Danny co-produced and hosted the 10-part podcast American Skyjacker: The Flight of Martin McNally, based on his reporting for the Riverfront Times, chronicling the dramatic life and crimes of a man who stole $500,000 in an airline hijacking in St. Louis in 1972. Danny graduated in 2013 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. He lives in St. Louis.

• Teri Maddox, Belleville News-Democrat. Teri Maddox has been a reporter for 37 years. She joined the Belleville News-Democrat as a feature writer in 1990 and still works for that small Illinois daily, mainly doing in-depth news features and covering Belleville city government. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science education from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a master’s in public administration with a journalism specialty from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before the BND, she worked as a general assignment reporter for the weekly Winter Park (Colorado) Manifest and education reporter for the daily Edwardsville (Illinois) Intelligencer. For the past 15 years, she has served as faculty adviser for The Scene student newspaper at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

Amanda Dolasinski, social media manager for U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Amanda is a former newspaper and magazine reporter, notably covering the U.S. Army and 82nd Airborne Division, before she transitioned to social media work managing Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other networks for government agencies. In her current role at USPTO, she creates content highlighting American innovation and creativity to educate the public on the importance of protecting intellectual property. She’s a proud graduate of Ohio State University. When not working, Amanda happiest totally unplugged from he world to tame wild puppies at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and hike the glorious mountains of West Virginia. She will be speaking to us via Zoom.

• Elizabeth Donald, freelance. Elizabeth Donald has been a journalist for more than 25 years. In that time she has covered nearly every beat except sports, with an emphasis on city and county government, crime and courts, education and watchdog investigation as a reporter and editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of Tennessee, a masters degree in media studies and an MFA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She was one of the first recipients of the Terry Harper Fellowship and has won multiple awards for journalism and fiction writing, including three Darrell Awards and the Mimi Zanger Award. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ national ethics and professional standards committee, and was on the team that rewrote the SPJ Ethics Code in 2014. Donald currently serves as president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, and is also a freelance editor and photographer, as well as the author of several fiction novels and coordinator of the Literary Underworld author cooperative. She has been writing freelance since 2018, with clients including the St. Louis Labor Tribune, McClatchy newspapers, Feast Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and others. She teaches as an adjunct professor of journalism and English composition at area universities. In her spare time, she has no spare time. Twitter/X: @edonaldmedia Bluesky: @edonald

• Chief Carole Presson has been in law enforcement for 27 years. Carole’s career started in Madison, Illinois in 1995, where she served as a patrol officer and juvenile officer. In 1997, Carole moved to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, where she served in patrol as a juvenile officer, elderly service officer, and field training officer. Carole rose through the ranks to become the first female lieutenant in the department, finishing her career in the investigation division specializing in child abuse, sex crimes and homicide investigation. She was a supervisor with the St. Louis Metropolitan Major Case Squad, a district commander of the Child Death Investigation Task Force, served in various capacities on the Madison/St Clair Counties Child Death Review Team, and served on the Madison County Task Force for Minority Recruitment. In 2019, Carole retired from the Sheriff’s Office and served as the Training Coordinator for the Southwestern Illinois Police Academy. Carole returned to active law enforcement in 2021, becoming the first female Chief of Police for the City of Highland, Illinois. Chief Presson holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration. Currently, Chief Presson is completing her doctoral studies and is working on her dissertation to address issues involving relationships in law enforcement. In 2022, Chief Presson graduated from the Southern Police Institute Administrative Officers Course Session 147. She has provided instruction for a variety of courses ranging from communication to homicide investigation. Carole received the SILEC Presidential award in 2019 for her role in law enforcement education.

We will share more about presenters as they confirm. Please go to our EventBrite site to register – space is limited! 

Note: a $10 registration fee is charged upon signing up. At check-in, the student will have the option of having their fee refunded, or donating it to the program. If you need to cancel, please contact us via this site or at for a refund. No-call no-show forfeits the fee.