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Selling journalism to high school kids

This Tuesday, I’m slated to talk to high school students about journalism as a career. I’m teamed up with someone from the local TV station, and together we have three 40-minute presentations to sophomores, juniors and seniors who each signed up because they have some interest in this field.

I talked to groups of students when they visited the Stater, or during the scholastic press days we had at Kent State. So I’m not entirely green.

I volunteered to do this because they were looking for speakers for three different career days and someone to let a kid shadow them. Plus, it’s at a school I don’t get out to much, so I’ll work my beat a little while I’m down there.

I asked the editor what I should expect, and what I should talk about. She was telling me that last year when she did this presentation the TV person after the talk had photos of herself to autograph. (Shoot me now.) I’m not even sure I’ll bring many biz cards. Her suggestions were what I expect:

In the 10 minutes or so, I’d talk about the newsroom in general — that we have about 50 people on our staff, and the different kinds of departments and jobs that they do. Then you can transition into what you do — what kinds of stories you write. How you get story ideas. What kind of hours you work. What you like about your job — what you don’t like. Why you would recommend it to someone. etc.

The anecdotes that seem to impress crowds are 1) famous people you have met/interviewed; 2) cool things that you’ve gotten to do as a reporter; 3) stories that have made a difference for a person or group.

The last three are of course the things kids want to know. Friday, I was at one of a high school doing the mugs and quotes for my Monday schools page. When I was done talking to one group of kids one asks, “Do you like being a reporter? Is it fun?” I laughed and joked that I thoroughly enjoy harassing high school kids with a camera and notepad. And then I told them the things I get to do that make it exciting and interesting. And then they asked question No. 1 from above. I told them a few people I’ve met, but that I’m a bad example because I never cared for or did entertainment. They asked if I knew anyone who’d interviewed Lindsay Lohan of all people. lol.

Anyway, I figure out little micro-discussion was a quick run-through of what I’ll talk about Tuesday.

Monday, I’ll have a chance at another run-through.

Last week, the editor came over to me and said, “I have a deal for you Meranda.” It was more, “I have an idea.” A local high school student taking journalism/working for her student paper graduates in December but wants to volunteer/intern here over the next month to get some experience. The editor asked me to kind of show her around and let her help me with the schools page. In particular, those mugs and quotes I love doing so much I seem to always put them off until Friday. So my editor asked me to set one up for her to try out Monday, her first day. That way, even if it turns out messed up, she or I can go back and redo it later in the week, and she can get some real-world experience (albeit at the thing most reporters loathe: man-on-the-street).

Any tips for the talk or for the high school intern? I plan to mostly just wing it Tuesday. As for the Q&A, I have it lined up already and a question prepared so it should run as smoothly as possible. I’m mostly scared about my boss intimidating the kid because, I love him but, he can be hard-core. Sometimes he still scares me. lol.

Either way, this will be the week of Meranda trying to sell journalism to high school kids. We’ll see how successful I am.

But no, I won’t be signing autographs.

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