High School Journalism Workshop returns to campus, opens doors for young aspiring media members

Published: July 20, 2022 Author: Staff reports

After two years of virtual workshops necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism was able once again to bring together – in-person – an outstanding group of instructors to teach and mentor eager high school students about media. 

“Being back on our beautiful Athens campus for the first time in three years was a big deal,” Tim Sharp, associate instructor and co-director of the event, said. “The students were impressed, and I know some are now considering wearing the green and white in a year or so.”

The 77th High School Journalism Workshop welcomed 66 students to the Athens campus. The students hailed from as far away as Texas and included attendees from Missouri, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and all corners of Ohio. 

Former workshop student leader and Scripps College of Communication graduate Connor Kurek brought seven students from Oyler High School in Cincinnati, where he is a teacher. He was excited for his students to experience the workshop and OHIO, and he promised he and his students would return. 

Attendees chose among eight tracks to follow during the four-day workshop, including broadcasting, graphic design, magazine journalism, news writing, photojournalism, podcasting, sports writing and strategic communication.

The list of presenters and track leaders included members of OHIO’s own renowned faculty as well as highly experienced returning professional alumni and former teachers.

“Once again our workshop featured world-class presenters,” Sharp said. “Allowing our students to learn from these icons has been a hallmark of the workshop for 77 years.”

High school students touring WOUB newsroom during Newswatch
Workshop attendees toured the offices of WOUB during production of a Newswatch episode. Photo credit: Caroline Bissonnette

Ugonna Okpalaoka, an OHIO alumna who found success as a producer of NBC’s “Today” show and who has struck out on her own as a freelance producer and filmmaker, gave the keynote address. She inspired students with a reflective talk about making sure students’ hopes for future careers are aligned with who they are and who they want to be. She told students that “values, purpose and vision” should guide their pursuits in journalism and beyond.

Presenters from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism included Director Dr. Eddith Dashiell, Professor Bill Reader, Scripps’ Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies Dr. Hans Meyer, and Kevin Smith, the executive director of the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism

The workshop also hosted multiple news conferences, featuring Jimmy Burrow, father of Super Bowl quarterback and Athens favorite Joe Burrow; Julie Cromer, OHIO athletic director; and Corinne Colbert, an area journalist embarking on a project to offer ethical local journalism as co-founder of the Athens County Independent newspaper. The news conferences were central to many of the students’ final journalism presentations closing out the workshop. 

The participants were also fortunate to have journalist Howard Hoffman, the director of strategic messaging at BlackRock Inc., return to the workshop, along with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson, a basketball television analyst, writer, host and executive producer at Bally Sports Network.

The workshop would be almost impossible and much less dynamic were it not for the talented group of OHIO students referred to as the “J Crew.” Nearly 20 undergraduate students joined the team to guide, engage and mentor the visiting high schoolers. 

The event was co-directed by Scripps faculty members Sharp and Mark Turner. Sharp, who is retiring this year, has led the workshop for seven years.

Barbara J. Perenic
Photojournalism track leader Barbara J. Perenic, Ohio University alumna and a photojournalist and editor at the Columbus Dispatch, posing while students practice taking portrait pictures. Photo credit: Caroline Bissonnette