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HSJ Institute Times ASNE H.S.J. Institute at UT-Austin Austin, TX
Issue Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 Issue: 2012 UT ASNE Reynolds Institute Last Update: Monday, July 02, 2012
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Reports from the UT ASNE Reynolds High School Journalism Institute

At-a-glance

Bobby Hawthorne teaching journalism teachers how to use leads to write the story at the ASNE institute at UT. - Jess Curry
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Two weeks without everything familiar: family, friends, car, and stuck in a hotel room in a distant city immediately after the end of a tough year is a lot to ask of someone.

But Sheryl Barto of Colorado did just this to attend the American Society of News Editors High School Journalism Institute at the University of Texas.  She felt expert tips to take home and use with her students for interviewing, reporting, writing and organizing a classroom made it worthwhile.

 “I feel like every session I have gotten something out of it,” Barto said.

Teachers from across the United States applied for a chance to learn from experienced journalists such as Bobby Hawthorne and Kevin Robbins, along with veteran high school journalism teachers such as Jeanne Acton, but only 28 teachers were selected to attend the Austin workshop.

High school journalism teachers face unique challenges, as Jenna Wittwer of Ohio noted.  She felt the pressure of trying to balance grading of a journalism class along with the responsibility of grading her English classes. 

 “I agree with Jeanne Acton that grading doesn’t matter in journalism, but my students’ parents demand grades, and often,” Wittwer added.

Developing ways to grade student work, within the quarterly grading periods of a school system, is difficult, especially when not every student performs the same job or has the same due date as others, she pointed out.  She felt an entire session could have been devoted to this, with more details on how to make it work.

“How to write a story, that is the most important thing that I have learned,” said Chelsea Gist of New Orleans. Bobby Hawthorne, a local Austin writer, editor and teacher, presented a method of writing using the quotes to tell the story and create transitions.  “He pretty much laid out what to do,” she said.

“Bobby Hawthorne’s approach to writing is exactly how I do it in my head,” said Janelle Eastridge of Bakersfield, California, “but I wasn’t sure how to communicate it to my kids.  His step-by-step approach of taking interview notes and making them into a story is helpful because it provides a concrete way for them to do it.”

According to Eastridge, students like looking at other students’ writing more than that of journalists’, because they relate to it better.

“In journalism I learned basic AP inverted pyramid, but Bobby’s presentation was different,” said Travis Armknecht of St. Louis.  “There were lots of heavy quotes that Bobby said were OK, but that’s different from what AP says.”

Armkneckt said he thought Hawthorne was coming from a philosophy that student products should be features.   “For instance, how I was taught AP style was fact driven—who, what, when, where, why, how.  You had to get out as much information as possible in case the reader stopped reading the article.  Bobby said why do that?  Write stuff that people want to read.”

After attending the session with Hawthorne, Jess Curry of Austin, Texas, learned something she had not been doing with her students. 

"You need that recorder to get the juicy quotes because you just can’t write as fast as they speak,” she said.

 “He said to make it memorable,” said Sarah Guthrie of San Jose, when asked about Bobby Hawthorne’s presentation.  “The quotes are important.  Ask good questions to get interesting quotes and let the quotes tell the stories—not forcing a story.”


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