Journalism and Media Summer Camp inspires young reporters

Industry-led summer camp introduces aspiring journalists to art of storytelling through technology

In partnership with seven local media houses, Dart’s Minds Inspired facilitated the launch of a new summer camp to introduce high school students to the world of journalism and media.

Over the course of seven days in August, 14 students from a cross-section of local public and private high schools got hands-on-experience learning from seasoned journalists from Cayman Current, Cayman News Service, Cayman Marl Road, Loop Cayman, Caymanian Times, Radio Cayman, Compass Media and Camana Bay Times.

The free admission camp included field trips to the Cayman Islands Courts, Radio Cayman and Compass Media, and facilitated classroom sessions on news writing for print, radio and video; journalism ethics; court reporting; sports and weather coverage; careers in media; business models; the relevance of social media; and content discernment.

“The camp was amazing,” said 14-year-old student Ethan Bodden. “I met new people and had some excellent experiences. I know others may think journalism is boring, but I now have a whole new understanding of news and entertainment.”

The camp culminated with the students working in groups to submit a print or video storytelling assignment. On the final day, the students presented their assignments to their peers and a panel of industry experts and received certificates for successfully completing the camp. These news pieces can be viewed on the Cayman Current website at www.caymancurrent.org/journalism-media-summer-camp/.

Inspiring the next generation of journalists

The Minds Inspired camp was made possible through the collaboration of seven local media houses – representing print, digital and broadcast media expertise - the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma based at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, and independent media experts.

“Modern journalists and media professionals rely on technology to gather and share the content they produce. We wanted to help high school students consider careers in media and journalism, and see how the work is enabled by technology,” said Pilar Bush, Dart executive vice president of marketing with responsibility for community development. “I would like to thank all of the local media partners, Bruce Shapiro of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University and our local team at Dart; they helped the students distinguish between different types of media content, helped one teen who already runs his own digital news outlet and inspired a few to consider a career in this expansive and exciting industry.”

In addition to representatives from Cayman Current, Cayman News Service, Cayman Marl Road, Loop Cayman, Caymanian Times, Radio Cayman and Compass Media facilitating classroom sessions and media house tours, the camp also benefited from virtual and in-person sessions led by former veteran journalists Tammi Sulliman, Alan Markoff, Jay Ehrhart and Lennon Christian, as well as Cayman Sports Buzz journalist Ben Meade.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the journalism and media summer camp, and to meet some of Cayman's bright and talented students,” said Patrick Brendel of Cayman Current. “Even if they choose to follow career paths outside of journalism, I think the information provided to them during the camp will make them more discerning consumers of news media as adults. Many thanks to Minds Inspired and local media colleagues for coming together to make this camp happen.”

Compass Media Editor-in-chief Kevin Morales said the level of participation from the next generation of reporters was inspiring.

“Compass Media believes journalism plays an integral role in a democracy and developing an interest in the industry among young Caymanians is of the utmost importance to us. We were happy to see the level of participation in this inaugural camp and hope to one day read these same students’ names on the bylines and credits of the stories we read and watch every day,” he said.

Ralph Lewis of Caymanian Times hopes the camp has sowed the seeds for more growth in the journalism and media industry. "As the Fourth Estate, media and the free press demand recognition not only from residents but also the youth who are choosing their desired careers. The Journalism and Media Summer Camp facilitated by Minds Inspired is a step in the right direction and I hope that we will see more interest in this profession in the future.”

Content Manager at Loop Cayman Daphne Ewing-Chow said, “It was extremely gratifying to be able to discuss the potential for journalism to create positive change on a local, regional and international level with these eager young minds.”

Speaking on behalf of Radio Cayman, Head of Department Norma McField said, “It was a privilege for Radio Cayman to be involved in this first initiative which, by all accounts, has exceeded expectations. The participants displayed a high level of curiosity and were very engaged when presented with the different aspects of radio, which included news, on air presentations and promotions. Congratulations to the Minds Inspired programme and we look forward to this becoming an annual offering for students who are interested in pursuing communications as a career.” 

Cayman Marl Road Manager Sandra Hill shared that the camp participants had technology on their side as the world of media continues to evolve. “The advantage is that technology will make the jobs of journalists more seamless is so many respects, making it accessible for them to forge new paths never before imagined,” she said.

The 2021 Journalism and Media Camp is one of nine initiatives facilitated by Dart’s Minds Inspired. With a focus on STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – Minds Inspired hosts a variety of opportunities, events and programmes to inspire curiosity, critical thinking and collaboration in the next generation of community and business leaders, while opening their minds to the possibilities of new career paths.

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