Two years ago, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University began working with the Stardust Foundation of Scottsdale to put new life into high school journalism programs.
With a $562,223 grant from the foundation, founded by Arizona real estate developer and philanthropist Jerry Bisgrove, we built multimedia newsrooms in 10 underserved Arizona high schools. These schools either had no journalism programs or had programs that were on the brink of extinction due to budget cuts and lack of support.
Each Stardust school received more than $40,000 worth of equipment, including Macintosh computers, scanners, video cameras, digital cameras, lighting, and software. Teachers receive support and training in new media technology and curriculum development. Students receive ongoing training in everything from grammar and news writing and reporting to photography and videography.
The result: As of fall 2009, more than 400 students are taking a variety of journalism classes and producing multimedia news Web sites for their schools. These online multimedia journalism programs, staffed by Highly Qualified Teachers, already are producing results. Students are mastering the elements of grammar, writing and new media technologies. They are more engaged in their schools and their communities, and we believe they are more likely to finish high school and go on to college.
The Cronkite program is believed to be the first university-based initiative in the country to create newsrooms in high schools.
In launching the Stardust program, we acted on the belief that high school journalism is one of the key ways that students engage in their communities and build academic success. In fact, studies show that students who participate in high school journalism programs do better in both high school and college. Practicing journalism improves students’ writing, real-world problem solving and critical thinking skills as well as their communication with peers. Survey results also show that journalism experience develops students’ self-confidence, responsibility, leadership and maturity, helps them learn to deal with conflicts while working with others and gets them involved with their school and their community.
However, high school journalism programs everywhere are struggling. They lack facilities, equipment, qualified teachers and, most of all, support. Printing expenses are driving many high school papers out of business, and few schools have the know-how or technology to successfully transition to Web-based publications.
The challenges are particularly acute in schools with large minority populations. These are the schools that are least likely to have high school journalism programs.
The Stardust program has three primary goals: to increase the number of students graduating from high school and going to college from the participating schools; to produce quality student news products for the schools and their local communities; and to improve the writing and communication skills of participating students, with a particular emphasis on grammar.
The Next Step
The Stardust program provides two years of intensive support to selected high schools, providing them with the training, equipment and technology required to get a journalism program up and running.
But their needs hardly end after two years. Schools retain their equipment but need continued support to sustain and build their programs. That’s where the Cronkite School Community Partnership Program for High School Journalism comes into play.
It is our intent to develop community partnerships linking the Stardust schools, the Cronkite School, and businesses and organizations within each Stardust community to ensure the long-term viability and vitality of the existing program. This partnership will provide:
· Continued technological and educational support from the Cronkite School, to include frequent on-site visits.
· Upgrades and maintenance of equipment and software as needed.
· Curriculum development, with resources being provided online.
· Extended educational opportunities for students and teachers.
· Web development and server support for high school-based news sites.
· Site visits from professional journalists to teach and mentor,
· Continued assessment to measure student success.
· Assistance in creating content-sharing arrangements with local media to spread the dissemination of community news.
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the top journalism schools in the country.
The school’s undergraduate and graduate programs emphasize professional training rooted in excellence, integrity and innovation – the hallmark values of its legendary namesake, Walter Cronkite.
The Cronkite School has long provided support and training for high school journalism students and their teachers. The Cronkite Institute for High School Journalism includes such programs as the Donald W. Reynolds High School Journalism Institute, a two-week fellowship program for 35 high school journalism instructors from around the country, and two full-immersion summer programs for high school students interested in journalism.
Other programs include the Stardust High School Journalism Program and a mobile outreach program that takes journalism equipment and training on the road to high schools around the state.
In addition, the Cronkite School supports daylong workshops each year for high school students, working closely with the Arizona Interscholastic Press Association, the Arizona Latino Media Association and the Arizona Indian Education Association.
The school is located downtown Phoenix in a state-of-the-art journalism building that is unparalleled in journalism education. It is equipped with 14 digital newsrooms and computer labs, two TV studios, 280 digital student work stations and the latest and most sophisticated technology found anywhere in the country.
Cronkite has brought in $25 million in grants over the past four years and has successfully managed grant-based programs ranging from the Donald W. Reynolds Center for National Business Journalism and the Gannett New Media Innovation Lab to the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and the Carnegie-Knight News21 program.