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ASNE summer workshop hosts 10 Fla. journalism teachers

By Joe Humphrey
FSPA Vice President

We toured California wine country, or saw the famous Columbia Restaurant Flamenco Dancers or cheered for the Charlotte Knights minor-league baseball team.

We rode subways, or streetcars or shuttle buses. Some of us slept in dorms, others barely slept at all.

All were part of an American Society of Newspaper Editors initiative to help prepare newspaper advisers for the challenges of guiding students through the process of publishing a dynamic campus newspaper.

Ten Florida journalism teachers spent two weeks of their summer at the ASNE High School Journalism Institutes, intensely studying journalism but also, as noted above, taking time to enjoy their surroundings.

One Floridian spent time at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., just outside Charlotte, N.C. Another five stayed closer to home, with nearly two weeks at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Veteran adviser Dianne Burd of Lake Mary High School was among those at the Tampa institute.

“ ASNE was great because, even though I have been a newspaper adviser for 26 years, I still got three pages of ideas to implement in my paper, not~to mention pages of notes I took,” she wrote in an e-mail following the conference.

“ The institute was very intense. After I recovered, I realized that I had really accomplished something, as well as met some great people.”

Indeed, it was the people that made the difference for me. I was among four Florida advisers sent to Berkeley, Calif., and the University of California’s Graduate School of Journalism.

I was impressed by how 30-plus people from throughout the country can be thrown together and bond so quickly. I made lifelong friends, with nicknames like A-Tay and Sweet Tea, Uncle Buck and D-Bott. I quickly became known as “Joe from Tampa,” a name that soon after became simply JFT.

I danced at the Saloon, escaped to Alcatraz and even witnessed that Haight-Asbury, the very birthplace of the hippie movement, was now home to a Gap clothing store.

While the social aspects were key, don’t think I’m discounting the importance of the classes.

Yes, the days were long. But it was time well spent.

We learned about media law, teaching writing, motivating students, narrative journalism. We tackled ethical issues from the opening dinner.

And beyond the courses – where we learned from speakers as well as each other – the key learning component for the course came in our creation of an online newspaper.

Us advisers became staff members of the paper. (Winthrop’s and Berkeley’s are online at my.highschooljournalism.org under Special Editions). That meant picking leaders in rooms filled with Type-A personalities, assigning stories and photos, editing, cropping and trying to maintain sanity, much like we expect our students to do.

The 10 of us were among 149 teachers this year and 851 total since the program started in 2001. By virtue of participating, all of us Florida teachers became FSPA members – hopefully helping to keep strong our foundation.

The institutes are sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has invested $5 million for 2004-06 in improving journalism education. As information for next year’s institutes become available, I hope you’ll consider matching the Knight Foundation’s generosity with a contribution of your time and energy in a program that’s well worth it!

Joe Humphrey is the TV & Journalism teacher at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Fla.