By Mike Linn
High school students from throughout the state will come to Portales next week to learn numerous aspects related to journalism: from photography to news writing, ethics to interviewing skills.
Professional journalists from across New Mexico will teach the four-day workshop at Eastern New Mexico University. The seminar is sponsored by the New Mexico Press Association and begins on Sunday.
As of 5 p.m. on Thursday, 24 students have registered, including two from Clovis High School and one from Floyd High School. Many newspapers in New Mexico sponsored students wanting to attend, paying the $150 fee that covers lodging at an ENMU dormitory and three meals a day.
One project for the students will be to publish their own paper, a first for the state-wide workshop that began 23 years ago.
“If a student is serious about going into journalism they would definitely want to come to this workshop because it will give you the exposure of putting a paper together, hands-on experience with media from the writing, editing and photography ends,” said Shelley Ratner, executive director of the NMPA, a 111-year-old non-profit organization representing approximately 50 newspapers in the state.
Virginia Lee, a Clovis High student contemplating a career in journalism, said she hopes the workshop will give her skills that may aid her future endeavors.
“Next year will be my first year on the (high school) newspaper staff, and so I hope maybe it will prepare me for some of the things I have to do,” Lee said. “I really like to write and I think (journalism) is a really interesting field.”
Among the speakers at the workshop is Ned Cantwell, a retired journalist who still publishes a syndicated column in seven New Mexico newspapers.
“The purpose is to introduce students to journalism, and we hope the benefits are two-fold: one, make their high school papers better; two, consider whether they want a career in journalism,” Cantwell said.
Cantwell will instruct students on the basics of journalism: the qualities needed, the job opportunities in the field and the varying types of writing printed in a paper.
Julie Aicher, bureau chief at The Associated Press in Albuquerque, will talk about law and ethics in journalism and the basics of covering court cases.
Aicher, who was in charge of AP coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial in Los Angeles, said she will also talk about her previous experiences in national court cases.
“I think they will be interested in hearing some of the higher-profile cases, but I will also be talking about some of the basics … how the court system works and making sure we get the facts right,” Aicher said.