Monday, April 9, 2007

Deadline looming for 'free' journalism camp

Eastern Illinois will hold its 15th annual high school journalism camp this summer, a 13-day, hands-on workshop where students will work with professional journalists to produce print and online publications. The camp, which is sponsored in part by the Illinois Press Foundation, is free to the 18 students selected for the program.

The IPF/EIU workshop is a two-week residential program that provides students an intimate look at journalism as a career. The workshop introduces students to the complete process of publishing newspapers: gathering information, writing news, editing it, designing and producing the paper. Participants will produce three newspapers during the course of the workshop that runs from July 8-21 in Charleston.

“I can think of very few more worthwhile goals than to encourage young people to become involved in newspaper journalism,” said David Bennett, executive director for the Illinois Press Association. “It is a rapidly changing landscape, and we will need competent, intelligent people, from diverse, multi-cultural backgrounds to address those changes in the future. The two-week summer immersion program that is held each year at EIU is a wonderful step toward that goal. We are very happy to help fund this project.”

The first week is devoted to instruction and related exercises, including news-gathering field trips. Professional journalists provide most of the instruction. Dozens of reporters, editors, publishers, photographers and other journalists have taught in the program since 1993, representing more than 30 newspapers and news organizations throughout Illinois and from nearby states.

“It's an almost ideal summer workshop,” says Ted Gregory, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Gregory has helped students find stories at a bagel factory, a hospital and the Lincoln Log Cabin during previous years. “The students get a healthy dose of practical experience and the organizers have done a wonderful job of weaving lots of fun into that experience. Every year I return to Charleston, I can see friendships between the kids evolve almost by the hour, while they absorb valuable, hands-on lessons in journalism.”

In addition, students will also spend three days interning at a daily newspaper where they will work with professional journalists to produce a news story.

Applications can be downloaded at EIU’s journalism web site. You can learn more about the journalism camp by checking out the information sheet at EIU’s journalism web site or by going to

The bulk of the funds are provided by the Illinois Press Foundation. The Project for Ethics and Excellence, the Pulitzer Foundation and the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund are also significant contributors to the program. All expenses (including housing, meals and tuition) are paid from these funds.

To be considered, students must complete the application form. Other requirements are (1) completion of the sophomore year in high school by the beginning of the workshop, (2) a 500-word essay by the student describing his/her career goals and how the workshop would help the student achieve those goals; (3) submission of three samples of the student's writing, preferably published non-fiction or graded exercises; (4) two letters of recommendation from the student's teachers/advisers. Final application deadline is May 5, but entries will be judged and internship slots may be filled earlier, depending on the quality of applications.

Feel free to contact the program’s director, Joe Gisondi, at 217-581-6016 or at


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