Changing the Face of Media
JCamp was started in 2001 as a response to the industry’s diversity crisis. The program is designed to help assure excellence in the profession for decades to come and to confront the lack of diversity in journalism, not just in race, but also in matters of religious background, political background and other factors. Since the program began, hundreds of the nation’s most talented teenagers have graduated. Early surveys of JCamp students indicated that approximately 75% went on to pursue journalism in college. With a multicultural team, media get more accurate perspectives on stories of Latinos, African Americans, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and Middle Eastern Americans.
With a diverse team, readers and viewers get different views on city governments, local communities, business, entertainment and recreation, science and medicine, and national and international issues.
AAJA’s JCamp is a national multicultural journalism program for high school students. The six-day training camp brings together culturally diverse students from across the nation to learn from veteran journalists and leading media executives. JCamp participants will receive hands-on training and produce multiplatform news packages for the program’s news site, JCamp Live.
JCamp’s goal is to develop the next generation of journalists. This six-day training camp brings together a multicultural group of high school students from across the nation to sharpen their journalism skills and work together in a unique learning environment. The curriculum consists of interactive workshops, hands-on training and field trips.
Selected students demonstrate a keen interest in broadcasting, newspaper, magazine, photojournalism or online media. This program is not limited to Asian American students, but to all high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors. There is no fee to apply and all costs are covered — including airfare, lodging and meals. Students stay in university housing during the camp week.
JCamp strives to confront the lack of diversity in journalism, in regards to race, socioeconomics, geography, religion, sexual orientation and identity. The camp strives to ensure excellence in the profession for decades to come. Through this culture of excellence and diversification, JCamp cultivates the voices and views of our future media leaders on government, human interest, entertainment, recreation, science, medicine, and national and international news.
The curriculum focuses on teaching and ingraining the following core principles:
- The Value of Cross-Cultural Communication Skills – This heightened awareness comes from interactions with peers and mentors from completely different environments and backgrounds, along with training in the basics of effective interpersonal skills and the importance of creating inclusive environments as colleagues and journalists.
- The Fundamentals of Leadership – Faculty work with students on persuasive communication skills, teamwork, professionalism, project management, developing a personal identity and accountability.
- The Importance of Diversity in the Newsroom and in Media Coverage – JCamp fosters an appreciation for diverse viewpoints and reporting in diverse communities. Students also learn why it is important that media outlets reflect the communities they cover.
- Strong Ethics in Journalism Practice – Students gain an understanding of the universal ethics of good journalism and the responsibilities of the media to cover communities with sensitivity and high standards.
- The Value of Networking & Career Mapping – Regardless of a student’s eventual career choice, each will go home with an understanding of how to pursue a profession and an appreciation for the importance of networking and building relationships with mentors and peers.
JCamp speakers have included Madhulika Sikka, executive editor of Mic News; Bob Schieffer, former CBS News’ “Face the Nation” moderator; Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times; Touré, former co-host of “The Cycle” and author of “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?”; Damon Winter, Pulitzer Prize-winning staff photographer at The New York Times; Carl Bernstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning Watergate reporter; Bill Whitaker, CBS News’ “60 Minutes” correspondent; Cheryl Diaz Meyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning war photographer; Kevin Merida, senior vice president of ESPN and editor-in-chief of “The Undefeated;” Arthur Sulzberger Jr., New York Times publisher; and the late Gwen Ifill, host of “Washington Week” and “PBS NewsHour.”
Since the first JCamp in 2001, more than 650 of the nation’s brightest young people have graduated from JCamp. Some of the graduates of JCamp have gone on to become professional journalists. A few of these alumni include:
- Terrell Brown, JCamp 2002: After attending JCamp, Brown was awarded a full scholarship for broadcasting excellence by the National Press Club. In 2009, at age 22, Brown was named a CBS News correspondent — the youngest in that network’s history.
- Jessica Carballo, JCamp 2004: Carballo won the Sun-Sentinel Correspondent of the Year Award, the Sun-Sentinel scholarship upon high school graduation, and she was the Miami Herald Silver Knight Winner in Journalism. She worked as a ABC production intern at WPLG-TV in Miami and is a 2010 graduate of Yale University.
- Arelis Hernandez, JCamp 2004: Hernandez graduated in 2009 from the University of Maryland, majoring in broadcast journalism. During her senior year at the university, Hernandez was named to the select list of the Top 100 Student Journalists in the country. She is now a political reporter for The Washington Post and the JCamp director.