Journalism boot camp
Eddy Perez | Photographer | Office of Communications & University Relations  

Journalism camp brings high school students to Manship

A group of nearly 40 journalists were gathered in the Manship School of Mass Communication’s D. Jensen Holliday Forum. There was no press conference, no news event to be covered. They wore press passes around their necks, and gripped notepads in their hands, but the excitement of the morning was captured in a single item: Ring Pops. 

For the week of June 7–12, the Manship School opened its doors to high school students nationwide, who enrolled in the “journalism boot camp” formally known as the Louisiana Scholastic Journalism Institute (LSJI). The program was offered years prior, took a break, and was revived three years ago.  

Students in the camp must demonstrate an interest in journalism, beyond that it is a mixed group of people. This year’s group includes one student from Chicago, 11 students from Houston, and several others from Louisiana.  

“We’ve had students from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee,” said LSJI director Yvonne Cappe. “This year we have the biggest group of Louisiana students we’ve ever hosted. It’s a wonderful recruiting tool for us.”  

Some students came from schools with journalism or media programs, others did not; the camp teaches students all the basics regardless. Scholarships were offered to some of the students who wrote essays with their applications. The Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, Louisiana Press Association, and LSU Student Media all donated funds for scholarships.  

Students were divided into two groups: print journalism and broadcast journalism. They spent the week attending classes taught by LSU students and recent graduates. Some of the classes included ethics, photography, interviewing, writing, and layout.  

“I’ve learned the most from the interviewing class we had,” said Brittany McMemar, a senior from Morgan City High School. “Interviewing has always been a weak spot for me, but this will help.”  

Each group worked on its own project—broadcast put together a video package and print created the front page of a newspaper. Their assigned topics were the same—the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine—which they dubbed “animal house.”  

“For now, everyone is writing a story for the front page, but we’ll work on the layout together,” said Dawn Richard, also a senior from Morgan City High School.  

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine Coordinator of Public Relations Ginger Guttner hosted a press conference for the students where they could ask questions and gather information for their projects. Students also utilized LSU students on campus for interviews and video clips.  

“The press conference was easier than I thought it was going to be,” Richard said.  

Richard and her classmate McMemar participate in the yearbook and newspaper at their high school; both of them hope to be journalists after college. For their front page project, they worked on stories about the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Cancer Treatment Center and how the school helps animals during a natural disaster.  

While their work and class schedule was packed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., counselors made sure the students had fun, too.  

“We told them to bring games and Guitar Hero. We went to see Mike the Tiger and will go shopping for LSU t-shirts,” Cappe said. “They are high school kids; they like to have fun.”  

Students stayed in Evangeline Hall, where a movie night was planned for them. The students enjoyed eating meals at 459 Commons, a campus dining facility, but had one problem.  

“This is going on at the same time as the football camp is,” said Cappe “so the kids are making sure they make it to the Commons before the football players do.”  

Overall, students were impressed with the camp and took some valuable lessons back home.  

“This is way better than what I thought it was going to be,” Richard said. “I pictured it just being classes all day, but we’ve gotten to go do things and put together a project.”

Holly Ann Phillips | Writer | Office of Communications & University Relations
June 2009