The News School Looks to Teach Journalism Skills in North Lawndale

News School

In Chicago’s North Lawndale community, St. Agatha’s Church has stood the test of time. For the last 125 years, it has been a beacon of the neighborhood, acting as its strength and even its spiritual foundation. Over the years, St. Agatha’s has grown and evolved in such a way that it is not just a church, but also a place where the community can come to learn new things and find a sense of empowerment through a plethora of programs.

One of the programs that the church hosts is the News School, which began in the summer of 2016. This particular program is focused on the enrichment and betterment of young people between the ages of 15 to 24, who are looking to potentially pursue a journalism career. The focus of this particular program is on the skills needed to be a successful journalist, while also offering lessons in how to work with social media, as well as different software platforms.

The News School aims to give not only high school students, but also other young adults interested in advancing their knowledge of journalism in the North Lawndale community, the opportunity to learn skills that go beyond the classroom. The goal of the News School is to offer these students skills that they can take with them in any career they choose, even if that career is not of a journalistic nature.

Some of the skills that the instructors hope to impart to the students include writing, editing, researching, and even the ability to think critically when faced with an abundance of new information. The hope of the News School is that any students who choose to take part in the program will learn skills that help them with future employment opportunities as they look to make a living wage in the world.

As part of the lessons that the News School offers, instructors teach students an assortment of lessons ranging from how to use WordPress, to writing press releases, and even how to write articles that are timeless in nature. Other lessons include investigative journalism, how to conduct an interview, and how to create marketing and social media based content.

Whether they are working together or on their own, the students of the News School are tasked with writing articles that accurately and fairly impart the news as it happens. The goal of each class and lesson is to turn these articles into publishable pieces that will be accessible to anyone with an internet connection. At the same time, the students are also working on articles that will eventually be published in a magazine that is a compilation of their most profound and relevant pieces. This magazine is a culmination of all of their hard work and dedication, and is usually the final piece of the puzzle that is the News School classroom.

At St. Agatha’s, the News School typically sees about 50 students come through the program every year. Whether these students choose to continue with the program and learn more beyond their initial journalism course or not, each student walks away with a certificate that shows that they have completed a course that teaches them how to be citizen journalists. The students also receive a press pass, while also having the start of a portfolio based on the articles that were published during their training.

Walking away from the News School, the students are able to show concrete proof of the work they have done over the course of time that they have been in attendance at St. Agatha’s. Whether they show off their certificates of completion or the body of work they have published, students can be proud of the work they have put into the program. While the program may be relatively young in comparison to the age of the church which houses it, the News School hopes to be a lasting part of the North Lawndale community.

Written by Kimberley Spinney

News School Experience

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Eric Allix Rogers’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons

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