By Kylie Bridgeman, Walnut Hills High School
On Saturday, June 26, young students of color from across Cincinnati came together online to learn about the world of journalism from local professionals. The workshop was hosted by the Greater Cincinnati Association of Black Journalists and the Society of Professional Journalists. The two organizations worked together to provide interview and photo workshops, presentations, panels and much more. The workshop was full of enrichment and provided several opportunities for networking, as many of the presenters provided their social media contacts with students in order to stay in touch. It was clear that they wanted us to have the tools to succeed in journalism.
These types of opportunities have been hard to come by in the past year, with COVID-19 disrupting many of the usual ways more experienced professionals prepare the next generation for the field. Over the past four years, though, I have been fortunate enough to work with Walnut Hills’ journalism department, most recently as the Editor-in-Chief for the yearbook–and in all of my years as a student journalist, 2020-21 was the most special, not because I was the editor, but because the ability to create a book documenting the craziest year of my life excited me.
Being a first-time Editor-in-Chief through the pandemic was a humbling experience, to say the least. There were a lot of missed goals and opportunities that I failed to capitalize on, and while the struggle of being a journalist this year made me question my career path, this GCABJ/SPJ workshop reminded me why I love being a student journalist, and confirmed that I want to be at the anchor desk one day.
Meeting Kyle Inskeep, Ashley Kirklen, Megan Mitchell and so many other amazing professional journalists allowed me to visualize the future I’ve wanted for myself for what has now been over four years. A lot of people have told me that journalism is a dying industry, but during the workshop Kevin Robinson told us that journalism is just a changing industry, and that there is no better time to be interested in becoming a professional journalist. That statement will stick with me through my entire career, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.
As a student journalist the one thing I urge everyone I work with to do is to never miss an opportunity because it doesn’t seem big enough, and attending this workshop, I put my own advice into action. At first I thought that a virtual workshop wouldn’t be helpful, and that I wouldn’t learn anything. The four hours I spent with GCABJ and SPJ were some of the best spent hours I’ve had online, and I hope to utilize everything I learned that day for many years to come.