UC journalism prof and alumni inspire young students of color

Collaboration encourages high school students to consider careers in journalism

By Bryn Dippold

A group of young students, educators and local media personalities came together over the summer in a Zoom meeting room. The goal? To encourage area high school students of color to consider a career in journalism.

The virtual workshop, in its third year, was hosted by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists (GCABJ).

UC College of Arts and Sciences professor and SPJ Vice President Jenny Wohlfarth was part of a team of local journalists that launched the workshop in 2018. Kyle Inskeep, Local 12 news anchor and president of GCABJ, helped lead the effort this year.

UC professor of Journalism Jenny Wohlfarth

UC professor of Journalism Jenny Wohlfarth

Wohlfarth, Inskeep and students Kylie Bridgeman and Wynton Jackson appeared on WVXU's Cincinnati Edition in August to talk to host Michael Monks about why they began the workshop and their experience going virtual this year.  

“The reason we wanted to do this is because we know how critically important it is to create a pipeline, a talent pipeline, of students of color, who are considering going into journalism for their college years and for their careers,” Wohlfarth says. “It’s always been important, but I think it’s more critically important now, because we know how valuable it is to have diverse viewpoints and perspectives in newsrooms.” 

The SPJ and GCABJ designed the workshop specifically for brown and black students to foster this diversity. 

Workshop participant and Walnut Hills High School senior Kylie Bridgeman

Workshop participant and Walnut Hills High School senior Kylie Bridgeman. Photo/Catherine Frost

“This was the first [workshop] that caught my eye,” Kylie Bridgeman, Walnut Hills senior and participant in the 2021 workshop, says. “Something about it being for black and brown students just really drew met to it. I felt like I definitely would be welcomed in the setting.”

The application, according to Bridgeman, was a Google form expressing interest in the workshop. There was no fee for the workshop.

When the workshop was first created in 2018, it was held at the University of Cincinnati’s Langsam Library. The first two years were held there, with the 2020 workshop being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some COVID restrictions have been lifted since the beginning of summer 2021, the workshop went virtual this year.

Activities included lessons on reporting with smart phones, interview and writing basics, social media and reporting, meteorology, broadcast journalism and a pre-recorded Channel 5 studio tour.

“It was a really great and holistic experience about every aspect of the news world,” Bridgeman says. “It was informative and reassured me and what I want to do.”

Bridgeman hopes to move onto college after high school graduation and pursue a major in journalism.

Workshop participant and Spectrum News 1 Ohio journalist Camri Nelson

Workshop participant and Spectrum News 1 Ohio journalist Camri Nelson

Guest professional journalists included Cara Owsley, Kristen Swilley, Jatara McGee, Megan Mitchell, Kevin Robinson, Sherry Hughes, Reggie Wilson, Keith Jenkins (an A&S Journalism grad), Tyler Dragon, Lindsay Patterson, Ashley Kirklen, Colin Mayfield and Camri Nelson, UC journalism graduate and board member of the Cincinnati Pro Chapter of SPJ.

“I feel like [black journalists] don’t have enough exposure,” Nelson says. “Whether we don’t know the right people to network with or we don’t have mentors. In newsrooms, you don’t see a lot of black people, so it was smart to get these kids learning about journalism and everything that it takes so that way, when they graduate, they’ll have some of the skills.”

Nelson says she would have benefited from a similar workshop in high school, where she had access to a broadcast journalism class but not much else.

Nelson, Bridgeman and Wohlfarth agree that the 2021 workshop was a success, and Wohlfarth has hopes for the lasting effects of the experience.

“I hope [the workshop] reaches students on a very personal level, and inspires them to think, not only can you do this, but if you do this, you can change the world," Wohlfarth says.  

Featured image at top: Young students of color join professional journalists for a virtual workshop.

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