Syracuse Journalism Lab
For local newsrooms to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
We aim to inspire talented high school students from Syracuse’s underrepresented communities to pursue journalism careers. The Journalism Lab is a project of Syracuse Press Club currently in the development stages, with the goal of launching with its first class of students in 2021. We hope to cultivate an educational and career pipeline that supports and creates opportunities for our students and our local newsrooms for years to come. We’ll connect promising young people with mentors at a pivotal time in their lives and help remove existing barriers to access careers in journalism. Along the way, we hope to improve the quality of news coverage in Central New York and publish under-told stories from the perspectives of burgeoning journalists.
A SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM IN SYRACUSE
Our local newsrooms have a diversity problem: Their staffs are whiter than the communities they serve. This lack of representation harms communities by silencing important voices and upholding systems that have caused historical and continued damage to vulnerable groups. Solving this problem will require more than individual managers making hiring decisions going forward. The volatility of the industry and strains on local newsrooms make diversifying news organizations a difficult, systemic problem. The most sustainable way to create vibrant, diverse and energetic newsrooms is to increase the supply of talented journalists of color and then create incentives for them to work in newsrooms in their hometown.
To do this, the Syracuse Press Club seeks to team up with the city school district and a local journalism non-profit as well as local newsrooms to create a 12-week, intensive journalism workshop for 10 high school students. The program will culminate with the publication of a multimedia journalism project.
Each student will be selected through an application process and then paired with a journalist mentor. A journalist-educator will organize weekly meetings and handle administrative responsibilities, while also offering journalistic and educational guidance as needed.
Students will publish their stories in local outlets and, in conjunction with the Syracuse Press Club, present their stories to family, friends, journalists and mentors at a gala. This will provide an opportunity for feedback, celebration and networking.
For their efforts, students will receive accreditation from the Syracuse Journalism Lab, which they can use on college or professional applications. They will also be invited on a tour of local journalism programs at Central New York’s nationally recognized universities, and the program will aim to line up students with an internship at local newsrooms upon college graduation or earlier.
Students will learn the fundamentals of newsgathering — beginning with basic technical skills of identifying news, writing and photography. It will include instruction on journalistic ethics, techniques in storytelling and multimedia production. Most learning will occur in service of the students’ final journalistic product, and curriculum will follow along the basic steps of story ideation to publication of a long-form, multimedia journalistic piece.
HOW YOU CAN HELP | PARTNER WITH US
The Syracuse Press Club is actively looking to collaborate with organizations and individuals who share our goals.
We have identified our first educational and professional partners, but see several opportunities for multiple organizations to get involved in the Syracuse Journalism Lab. We envision this program will thrive when multiple newsrooms, schools and non-profits are working together on behalf of our students.
Please consider how you might help us make this happen. If you are interested in working with us or supporting our work, the Syracuse Press Club board would love to hear from you. We are excited to work together.