Monday, July 27, 2015

[016] MTSU Innovation J-Camp inspires aspiring journalists

MURFREESBORO — Murfreesboro’s Haley Perkins called it “a real-life experience.”

Eric Goodwin enjoyed the “freedoms that encouraged creativity.”

Perkins, a rising Blackman High School sophomore, and Goodwin, a rising Central Magnet senior, were two of 21 students enrolled in the first MTSU Innovation J-Camp July 13-17 at the Center for Innovation in Media in the John Bragg Mass Communication Building.

Center Director Val Hoeppner, lead instructor for the camp, guided the aspiring journalists through numerous aspects of the profession that has gone high-tech and digital. She had plenty of assistance from Journalist in Residence Whitney Matheson, College of Mass Communication Dean Ken Paulson and student mentors.

“One of the best parts of the camp is that it lets kids experience things in multimedia that a lot of them do not experience elsewhere,” said Goodwin, 16, who will be graduating early and is considering attending MTSU after graduating from Central in 2016.

Hoeppner kept the students, primarily sophomores, hopping from topic to topic in teaching them how to tell stories for mobile, social, digital and video audiences.

They learned interview techniques and “what’s news” from Hoeppner and Matheson; free expression and First Amendment knowledge from Paulson, who also serves as president of the First Amendment Center; story structure and writing profiles. And that was just July 13, the first day of the camp, which is open to rising sophomores through seniors.

Later, they delved into music and the media with Greg Reish, director of the MTSU Center for Popular Music; photography and photo editing software; shooting and editing for a 60- to 90-second video — capping the week by building websites and sending their videos to YouTube.

“They will have a ready-made portfolio,” Hoeppner said. “They’ll have an online website with content on it they can manage.”

Sophia Chen, 15, a rising sophomore at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School at Pearl High in Nashville, said she “learned a lot of new things, especially video editing.”

The students recorded interviews and shot “B-roll” video clips July 16 at a number of campus venues including a coding camp in Kirksey Old Main, Ben Speer’s Stamps-Baxter School of Music in the Wright Music Building and at the Campus Recreation Center.

“It has given me an opportunity to test the waters and see if this is something I might pursue later on, especially in interviewing because I never had the experience with that and this really exposes us to that,” said Goodwin, a track and field and cross-country runner for Central.

“I enjoyed the camp because there was a lot of hands-on activities,” he added. “It’s not just taking notes. … We were doing what professionals do. I joined the camp so I could turn photography, which I have been doing for a few years, into a more professional hobby.”

Perkins, 14, said the camp has given her “insight (into) what journalism is about.”

Sidney Starling, 15, a rising Central sophomore, always has been interested in filmmaking and photography.

“I really like the technology,” she said. “This has taught me much more than I could’ve ever taught myself.”

Hoeppner said she is considering making the second Innovation J-Camp in 2016 a two-week experience. The camp was a partnership between the Center for Innovation and Media and Mass Comm.

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