This week, I am up in Portland, Maine, leading a newspaper workshop at the Telling Room. It’s my first real foray into teaching, and I have a great group of 12-15 year olds.
Monday we had a riveting panel of journalists–me, my father, a 45-year veteran of the newspaper industry, and a Portland-based journalist, Deirdre Fulton. We talked about news hooks, story ideas and the virtues of pencils over pens, plus shared some of our most embarrassing interview moments. In the afternoon, the students interviewed each other and wrote mini-profiles about their workshop-mates.
Amazingly, they all came back on Tuesday morning! Because of some weath-a, we decided to cut the day short, so we got right to writing after some fun, break-the-ice activities. I gave the students a lists of facts and asked them to craft a stories out of it. Many of them have written before, but generally fiction or poetry. Journalism has it’s own form and style, so it’s useful to practice writing that way, even if we don’t have time to do all the interviews.
We experimented with new ledes on a magazine story I read years ago (also discussing how much reporting the writer did and how she made a seemingly boring topic more interesting), and then talked about story ideas–the students will hit the town tomorrow as reporters doing pieces on local coffee shops and other businesses, an E.R. doctor and a local healthcare center that’s closing.
Look out, Portland!