Educating Future Writers
By Ramya Sugamar
On April 27, 2013 MY ROOTS hosted a media workshop at the Malvern Family Resource Centre. The workshop aimed to help youth in the community learn more about media and the various aspects and avenues available in the field.
The guest speakers who presented the workshop included Amanda Robinson, a radio and print journalism professional, Kamiesha Horne-Simmons a student studying broadcast journalism at Durham College, Kiyah Welsh a York University graduate and Denise Balkissoon a multiple magazine award winning freelance journalist.
According to Arkimsha Nagulendran, a grade 12 student from Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Secondary School, “the guest speakers were in my opinion the highlight of the workshop.”
Robinson led a workshop on interviewing skills and offered students an idea of how to ask in depth questions to obtain more information. According to Robinson, there is no such thing as asking stupid questions and she gave an example of how it is acceptable to ask a person how to spell their name. She explains that the worst mistake a writer can do is spell a person’s name incorrectly.
She also shared that when conducting an interview it is best to approach it as if you were going to have a conversation with the person and “be curious, listen, and allow for pauses.” Robinson encouraged participants to do research on the issue or topic before heading into an interview.
The participants in the workshop learned how to apply the skills she taught through mock scenarios that were provided. Some of the scenarios were books stolen from the library, a person who was shot, and discrimination. The participants came up with questions that they could ask to witnesses, people affected, and/or the police. In the discrimination scenario participants created questions such as: “how is the company viewed in the public eye?” and “what is the race, gender and age of the individuals that are affected?”
Kiyah Welsh and Kamiesha Horne-Simmons presented a session about broadcast journalism. They taught several broadcast rules. The first rule is to read out what you are going to present out loud so that it makes sense. They explained that reporters get a limited amount of time to explain the story and that time should not be wasted by mentioning unnecessary words or facts. Participants also got to learn how to summarize very informative articles to a script they would say on television in thirty seconds.
Krystal Sukhu, Grade 12 student from Mother Teresa stated “I really enjoyed it [the presentation] to be honest and I learned a lot about the media.”
Within the “Journalism 101” session Balkissoon gave a revealing presentation of the media. She discussed that the media informs us of what is happening around us and how it influences our opinions about certain topics. She explained the importance of deadlines to the industry. News organizations compete to get the story out first. Now that the world is more connected by the Internet, news reports have to be released within minutes.
Another issue within the media that Balkissoon addressed was bias. She showed a video clip from a neutral source. That video clip was from CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) and was about the recent building collapse in Bangladesh. She said that it was neutral because there were opinions from several people such as University professors, business analysts, reporters, victims and their loved ones. She explained that hearing several perspectives instead of one will allow you to hear more information and obtain a clearer understanding of what the story is.
As the workshop came to a close, Elizabeth Zeppa, grade 12 student from Mother Teresa mentioned “it was very well organized and developed. It was a great opportunity for young writers and I hope there’s another.”