My experience at journalism camp: Newsroom by the Bay

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My experience at journalism camp: Newsroom by the Bay

Lydia Zhou, Staff Writer

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During summer 2019, I attended the most life-changing and enlightening camp, the Stanford Newsroom by the Bay Journalism Camp. I spent seven days at the beautiful Stanford campus in Palo Alto, close to San Francisco, studying every type of journalism possible and even got a chance to report on a story. I met people from all over the world who shared the same intense passion as me as well as leaders in the journalism world. They were all incredibly helpful and charismatic, and I got so close to them that it felt like they were my family. My team leader, Irene, graduated from Northwestern with a journalism major and is currently working as a news anchor at CBS. Clearly, she was experienced. I connected with her on a personal level because she was Chinese and spoke Mandarin like me. She even studied abroad in Shanghai, which is where my relatives live, and I visit every year. I became close to many of my peers too and met people all the way from France to the Philippines to Los Angeles. We all kept in contact, including the team leaders. Looking back, I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to attend. 

Most days we had the same routine. Wake up, go to class, congregate into our reporting groups, and listen to a guest speaker. Classes included about an hour of learning about the different types of journalism. I didn’t even know there were that many types, ranging from Photojournalism to Digital Storytelling, Broadcast, and Video. All the teachers were very intelligent and knowledgeable about the subjects. The classroom format felt like a college course, with the professor usually speaking upfront and the students taking notes in their seats. In each class, we did a series of mini activities that would assist us in putting together our final projects. The most enjoyable class, in my opinion, was Digital Storytelling, partly because the teacher was one of my favorites. She’s from Palo Alto High School, and she and a group of students ran the school newspaper/magazine called El Estoque. Their school had a journalism class, which was very helpful timewise. The magazine was so professional that if it was sold at Barnes and Noble, I would not be fazed. I was almost starstruck at the school’s ability to create such incredible articles and intricate graphics.

One big takeaway I discovered from this class was that technology is such a huge part of journalism nowadays. Our teacher taught us many editing and interactive programs that I got very familiar with. I also really enjoyed listening to our guest speakers. Every day, a different speaker with different occupations and skills came and talked about their career. My favorite speaker was a journalist from the Bay Area who later became a podcast content creator. Podcasts are my favorite way to get connected with the news and to get informed. She was very inspiring, sharing her story about how journalism led her to create and produce a podcast called Bay Curious. The topics she covers with her team are all so interesting and creative, and she provides many exceptional sources. 

One day out of the week, we went on a field trip for our final project—the day we were all looking forward to because we finally went out into the city and collected our interviewees. Basically, our project was centered around the city of San Francisco. Each student could report on any topic of their choice, as long as it related to SF. We worked in pairs or trios in our reporting groups. I worked with a student named Janice since we both had very similar ideas and suggestions. Our topic was about San Francisco Street Fashion. We wanted to get some popular opinions on what exactly San Francisco Street Fashion was, the history of what San Franciscans wear, and take pictures of their style. We both brainstormed some meaningful questions over the week, and we were eager to head out to the city. Before we set off, our team leader taught us the basics on how to interview people politely and what information we would need. Then, we stepped into the real world. It was definitely a rollercoaster of an experience. We got a few rejections, especially since SF was a big city and people had places to be and people to see. But, we also had lots of successes and ended up interviewing two impressive random people on the street: a personal stylist and clothing store owner. They both had fascinating responses to our questions and shared compelling life stories that got them to where they were today. This is the best part of journalism—getting strong evidence and real primary sources that will be so impactful to my story. I felt incredible and was excited to dive right into writing my article. 

The last few days consisted of the “production” process. This period is when the actual meat of this project was done, meaning all the writing and website. Not going to lie, it was very hectic, especially since it was my first time, and we didn’t have much time to get everything done. There was a lot of quick but diligent editing, sharing, and importing. The key to this process was communication. We needed to let our peers and leader know exactly what we were doing and how. If one step went wrong, it would take us ten steps back which wasn’t the best. I learned that, during these times, I need to stay calm, work hard, and not get wrapped up into the craziness. Even though it was frantic, I loved it. It forced me to work hard non-stop and do my best work. Finally, we were finished, articles were done, and our website was up.

Newsroom by the Bay had a project showcase for all families and relatives. This was the moment where we got to see all our ideas become a reality, and we got to admire our hard work. It all paid off because at the end of the showcase we got awards for our accomplishments. Our group got a Best Website Award because our team leader was skilled in that specific area. It was a bittersweet but delightful experience to end to the best week of my life.