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The News School allows people of all ages to improve their writing skills and learn the profession of journalism as well. The program teaches novice journalists how to write in AP style, format articles, retrieve sources, and publish written works on real news websites. The course covers writing and grammar, what it means to be a journalist, and how important they are to society. The motto of The News School is that a journalist’s job is to make sense of current and past events. They strive to make these things clear so that people can be free and self-governing.
The News School teaches four pillars of what it means to be a skilled journalist. The four things required are: An obligation to the truth, loyalty to the citizens, discipline of verification, and independence from the subject. These things make program participants not only better readers and writers but journalists.
Participants in the program are supplied with countless opportunities. In addition to their articles being displayed on a public website, which anyone can see, participants write for an edition of The News School’s magazine series, commemorating the participants’ completion of the program. In addition, when participants graduate, they are given an awards ceremony and a certificate of completion of the program. If that was not enough, participants are also given press credentials, giving them access to a myriad of events to attend and cover.
Film and Digital Media
Written news is not The News School’s only specialty. Most news is acquired through other mediums in the modern era, and understanding those mediums is essential to success. The program teaches social media marketing, website creation, cinematography for interviews, directing, and live streaming. Participants can operate camera systems, set up lighting, work with a green screen or even create their own show to share on The News School’s sister website, YouTV1.
Being able to think on one’s feet and work in high-pressure situations is incredibly important in many industries. Once participants thoroughly understand how the camera system, lights, and live streaming work, they are eligible to cover more events. In these cases, multi-camera setups are used to record, or perhaps, livestream the event. This experience becomes incredibly helpful for many situations as not only do participants learn the skills to record events but how to work in a high pace, high-pressure situation and deal with problems as they arise.
The News School’s Success
Many participants of The News School have gone on to receive degrees and have successful careers. One of these alumni is DeVonte Matthews. He began in the program when he was 17. Now, he is 22 and works on a Showtime drama titled “The Chi.”
Matthews returned to the newsroom to be interviewed and explain what participation in The News School meant to him. He said that the program was like a catalyst for him, expanding his awareness of possible career paths and giving him the tools to reach them. Matthews also explained how unique the program is and how in his life, he has yet to find any program that rivals what the school offers its participants.
He talks about how it is potentially dangerous to jump into journalism and media altogether without the training The News School provides. Matthews explained that he began posting videos on YouTube when he was a teenager, but with one major caveat. Nearly everything he posted was plagiarized work. He went on to say, “I learned about plagiarism from The News School. You can’t steal other people’s work. You’ve got to put it into your own words…cite where you got the article from or video from so they can get their credit, so they won’t sue you.”
Matthews explains how his News School experience gave him opportunities he would never have had otherwise. For example, he recalls being a photographer at the verdict announcement in the Laquan McDonald, Jason Van Dyke case.
He said he remembered one of the crime chasers coming up to him and telling him how amazing the photos he had taken were. The crime chaser then asked how much Matthews wanted for the rights to those photos.
The News School builds up its participants and equips them with the tools to succeed. Williams is a clear example of this. The program treats all its participants like family and encourages them to explore their interests. The News School heavily focuses on the participant and fosters their success beyond the program, as it has for Matthews and others.
Thanks to the support of Phalanx Family Services, St. Agatha Catholic Church, and many others, The News School has been able to continue the program for seven years and provide stipends for its participants. If you or someone you know would like to participate in the program, please contact the school through their phone number: (872)-201-7522, or send them an email at: “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Written by Joseph Nelson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Interview: DeVonte Williams; April 6, 2022
Images Courtesy of The News School Photography