The News School Primarily Teaches Youth Reading, Writing, and Reporting Skills

The News SchoolThe St. Agatha NEWS School (SANS) was founded in the summer of 2016. It is primarily a journalism program for teens and young adults (ages 15-24) that takes youth and young adults from the community and teaches them reading, writing, and reporting skills that are vital to most workplaces, and increases their opportunity to secure living wage jobs.

Students learn to write leads, conduct interviews, write news reports, and press releases, as well as conduct investigative research, and even create social media and marketing content. Students are taught how to use Adobe design tools, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign as well as website development programs like WordPress. They are also taught the ethics and fundamentals of journalism.

With a unique partnership between Phalanx Family Services and Saint Agatha Church, The News School (TNS) has recruited youth from impoverished Black and Brown communities to train and certify them as Citizen journalists. These teenagers and young adults report on both the negative and positive stories unfolding daily in their communities.

The class publishes a weekly newsletter, daily articles, as well as a print and digital magazine at the end of the 8-12-week class and internship session.

The program serves a total of 45 students in three class sessions per year. Generally, students are in class 10 to 30 hours per week for 12 weeks. Summer sessions can usually serve up to 24 students and last for 6 weeks.

At the end of the session, students that pass a comprehensive media exam are each awarded a citizen journalism certificate, a press pass, provided a professional role on The New School’s (TNS)’ online newspaper and are promoted to the title of cub reporter as they have established themselves as published news writers.

The program has also expanded to include broadcast journalism and media broadcasting. The goal is to record stories by the students about their community that can then be broadcast on either CANTV or the News School’s website.

At the end of the program, students are assisted in seeking job opportunities in journalism and IT positions. The News School program has expanded into acquiring paid work for student interns to create social media marketing content using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. In other words, product and service companies hire TNS student-interns so that they are able to continue learning as they work on actual projects for paying clients. Currently, The News School is being considered for a paid contract to perform social media marketing for the US Census. If we land the contract, we will be able to hire our graduates to help us complete this contractual obligation.

The long-term goal of the program is for graduates to become self-sustainable through paid journalism and marketing work. St. Agatha’s NEWS School, therefore, employs two strategic approaches to help graduates find work.

First, administrators have cultivated relationships with a number of media outlets and technology companies that frequently offer entry level jobs to qualified candidates. In this effort, SANS has identified the necessary skills graduates need to possess in order to gain employment with these companies. The school’s relationship with these businesses essentially gives graduates the extra advantage of securing a number of job interviews after completing the News School’s first 8 weeks of training.

The News School’s second strategic approach simply provides Chicago businesses access to IT services at below market pricing. This approach allows the school’s high achievers the opportunity to gain temporary employment at the News School. Also, this business model allows some graduating students to remain in the program so that they can expand their knowledge of the business component.

Written by DiMarkco Chandler and Staff

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