From June 17-27, 18 high school juniors and seniors participated in a rigorous journalism program on PLNU’s campus. This was the 30th anniversary of the Multicultural Journalism Workshop, sponsored by the California Chicano News Media Association (CCNMA) and hosted by Point Loma Nazarene University.

In honor of its 30th year, San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, who represents Coronado and the South Bay, even presented workshop organizers and students with a proclamation declaring June 26 “San Diego Multicultural Journalism Workshop Day” throughout the county.

CCNMA workshop student Anna Buckley interviews former Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson at his retirement press conference.

The workshop is free to high school juniors and seniors from San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial Counties and staffed by volunteers who are or used to be journalists. The Dow Jones Foundation, CCNMA, and PLNU fund the workshop.

Jen Lebron Kuhney, the workshop’s day-to-day director, a U-T San Diego reporter, and a PLNU journalism alumna, says the program is hard work for students, who learned to create their own newspaper and produce a news broadcast, which aired on NBC 7 San Diego over the weekend.

“The workshop… gives [students] the opportunity to get hands-on training unlike any other program out there,” said Kuhney. “A lot of students come in unsure about whether they want to pursue journalism in college, but by the end of the week, they know if it is right for them. It also provides a lot of students the opportunity to get a feel for what it is like to live on a college campus and work in a professional setting – two experiences most high schoolers do not get to participate in until later in life.”

The 2012 CCNMA Multicultural Journalism Workshop participants

“They were some of the strongest young journalists we’ve seen in years,” said Dr. Dean Nelson, director of PLNU’s journalism program. “Some students decide to come to PLNU as a result of this workshop. Others go to top journalism schools around the country. It’s an amazing program.”

The students worked with professional journalists both in a makeshift newsroom in LJML’s Hughes computer lab, at the NBC 7 studios, and out in the field.

“The students cover anything a professional reporter would from Navy ship homecomings and medical marijuana to Padre games and the San Diego County Fair,” said Kuhney.

Several other PLNU professors and students helped make the eight-day workshop a success. The Society of Professional Journalists San Diego chapter, where PLNU journalism professor Dr. Sue Atkins is president, helped provide the workshop with volunteers and needed funds. Michael Rocha, PLNU magazine editing and concepts professor and U-T editor, instructed the students on newspaper layout. Abby Hamblin, a current PLNU student and the Point Weekly news editor, took workshop participants out on assignment and helped them lay out the paper. Alaina Bird, a current student, also donated her time to the workshop.

“In the four years I’ve helped with the workshop, I’ve been blessed to watch it change the lives of nearly 100 high school students,” said Kuhney. “A lot of students we accept to the program have never been to summer camp, worked in a professional environment, or had the ability to participate in college preparatory activities outside of their schools. Our goal is to train our students to know what it takes to become ethical journalists, but whether they choose to go into journalism professionally doesn’t matter as much as that each student leaves the workshop with some great experiences to build off of and a better appreciation for what it takes to be in the news industry.”

During its 30 years, the workshop has trained more than 500 high school students, some of whom have gone on to work at such publications as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Miami Herald.

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