The Norman Transcript


June 22, 2014

Oklahoma high school students find their voice in journalism

NORMAN — Sixteen high school students from across the state spent June 15 to 22 at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus for the annual Oklahoma Institute for Diversity in Journalism workshop.

The workshop was created in 2004 to provide opportunities for promising high school students who would otherwise lack access to journalism training or who face other barriers to pursuing careers in journalism.

“The goal of the week is to give the students a solid introduction to the media field while letting them share their voices on issues and topics that matter to them,” said Melanie Wilderman, managing director of the workshop and assistant professor of journalism at Gaylord College. “We are giving them a weeklong experience of a multimedia newsroom. They are writing stories, shooting video and photos and designing graphics.”

By the end of the workshop, each student should have two stories that they have taken from an initial idea to final product. Their work will be published on

More than a dozen faculty and professionals served as teachers and mentors to the students, including a former Washington Post editor; a former news anchor for TOLO TV, the biggest TV station in Afghanistan; and a sports writer for the Navajo Times in Window Rock, Ariz.

The workshop also placed special emphasis on diversity and how the contributions of unique perspectives are important not only in the newsroom, but also throughout their communities. The students come from diverse areas and represent schools from urban areas like south Oklahoma City to tiny, rural towns like Forgan in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The workshop is experiencing a period of renewal under the leadership of Wilderman and co-director Joey Senat, associate professor of journalism at Oklahoma State University.

Key to the continued success of the program is renewed support from the Oklahoma City-based Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, which awarded a grant of $39,000 to fund the program.

“We are thankful for the incredible generosity of the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation for sponsoring such an important program,” Wilderman said.

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