A Trip to Tufts University

June 4, 2008
By Felicia Connolly, Attleboro, MA

Tufts University in Medford, Mass. held their seventh annual journalism seminar for high school students on April 10. Three sophomores and their journalism teacher from Attleboro High School attended. The seminar was hosted by Tufts junior Laura Herman, sophomore Duncan Pickard and junior Adam Weldai. There were seven total speakers throughout the day.

The day started with check-in and a breakfast of muffins, cinnamon rolls, coffee, and orange juice, providing students time to mingle.

Weldai, the first speaker of the day, ran the “Know Your Rights” workshop. He discussed what rights students have to public documents, reviewed cases that denied students their rights, and provided information on where to call if students ever had an issue concerning their rights, for example censorship. Weldai then broke the students into groups to converse about problems their school paper may have had with censorship.

Two members of Gov. Deval Patrick’s press team, David Cavell and Lara Kitan spoke next. Cavell briefly discussed his experience working under Patrick then Kitan, an intern for Patrick’s office, discussed the main topic of the day—journalism on the Internet and blogs.

“I don’t believe journalism is dying in the new day and age. The Internet isn’t killing it; there just needs to be people who are credible and people who know where to find true information,” said Kitan.

Before lunch Editor and Chief of the Tufts Daily, Matt Skibinski, discussed how hectic, but wonderful, an experience the paper is. He also stuck around to answer individual questions.

Over lunch, students were split into random groups. This opportunity allowed schools to swap papers and discuss differences in how they ran their papers. At the close of lunch, winners of the Active Citizenship in High School Journalism Award were presented. This competition was based on articles students sent in about important issues in their community.

After lunch, two students, Michael Skocay and Lydia Hall, covering for a professor who could not attend due to medical problems, spoke about blogs and their increasing popularity. These students informed everyone that the “blogosphere,” the entire collective of weblogs, is doubling about every six months. Also they specified three different types of blogs.

The first of these and the most popular is the “personal blog,” which records the daily life and thoughts of everyday people. Some personal blog sites are Livejournal.com and Blogger.com. Then there are “political blogs,” which include opinions on current events for example Powerlineblog.com and Realclearpolitics.com. Many political blogs also have a “blogroll,” which has links to other, similar, blogs. Finally there are the mainstream “media blogs,” which share information on subjects such as television shows and new music.

Though blogs are popular, both student speakers expressed a preference for newspapers instead. “The newspaper has really helped me as a college student. It’s made me more of an active citizen,” Hall said.

Skocay made a similar statement about the paper. “It has increased my writing ten fold,” he said.

The final speakers were Julie Dobrow, Director of Communications and Media Studies at Tufts, and Ben Aaronson, editor of the Lincoln Journal. They also focused their lecture on blogs, talking mostly about credibility and how to keep blogs credible.

“On blogs people should try to add to the conversation, not make attacks on each other,” said Aaronson.

Filtration systems on blogs were also discussed. These would help prevent nasty attacks on people or their opinions and any inappropriate language. “You want to have a filtration system, but also allow students to get involved with the discussion,” Dobrow said.

After the blog talk, Dobrow discussed how to choose good article topics. She said that it’s important to focus on issues that affect the community and have reliable sources. She closed with which kinds of documents are available to the public. Some of these documents include information on school budgets and police reports.
The conference was packed full of wonderful speakers and great advice to aspiring journalists.

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