Building knowledge and access for young journalists and their teachers is crucial to building a better, more community-focused news ecosystem in California and across the nation.
The next generation of journalists — both the students and the people who teach them — are being equipped and nurtured by CalMatters.
This summer’s “JCal” workshop immersed a diverse range of high school students in California journalism.
With 22 students from 19 different cities and towns across the state, the experience included hands-on journalism, workshops that built skills, and industry speakers. Students experienced a journalist-led tour of the state Capitol building, a trip to a seaweed biotechnology factory, and a visit to KCRA’s broadcast studio.
Students reported on California water issues, combining interviews completed in advance in their hometowns with the journalism they did during the workshop, paired with industry mentors from Business Insider, the San Francisco Standard, the Los Angeles Times, CapRadio, The Sacramento Observer, the New York Times, ABC and CalMatters.
Here are some of the thoughts shared by student participants:
“JCal has been a life-changing opportunity for me and my journalism career. I built connections with incredibly compassionate and driven people from all backgrounds – whether student, mentor or newsroom leader. I learned, and most importantly, I felt listened to. For many of us, this has been the first time where we were able to immerse ourselves in the lives of professional journalists and pursue journalism full force: eat, breathe and sleep journalism.” – Sarah Yee
“JCal gave me the encouragement I needed to believe I have a career in journalism. After participating in this camp, not only do I know more about the life of a journalist, but also I know the severity of the water issues in California. This program allowed me to have a greater stake in the water issues in California and be an advocate for them. On top of that, I feel inspired to explore the dozens of different career options that are available within journalism, even if it isn’t directly reporting. This program lets students from all across California experience hands-on journalism in a safe, fun and inspiring way.” – Maia Isabella Alvarez
Journalism Educator Fellowship
High school and middle school teachers from across California attend the Journalism Educator Fellowship at CalMatters in Sacramento on July 10, 2023. Photo by Semantha Norris, CalMatters
And the Journalism Educator Fellowship, also this summer, kickstarted a fellowship for 23 California high school and middle school journalism educators.
The program launched with a four-day session in the CalMatters newsroom featuring guest speakers, skills workshops, curriculum sharing and open brainstorming conversations.
Fellows will continue with the program for a year, being paired with industry and scholastic mentors to scale their student-led programs, receive assistance with curriculum, build skills, and more. Program participants stretch across Northern California, the Central Valley, the Inland Empire and Southern California.
Here is what some program participants had to say after the initial Sacramento session:
“This experience has boosted my confidence and gave me the foundations to get off to a good start building the club. I don’t feel like I’m fighting a losing battle anymore.” -Steven Kent
“This is the best professional development I have ever been to, and I have been teaching for 30 years. I learned from every single presenter and session and enjoyed the discussions with the other teachers in the program. I feel prepared to return to school with all of the materials that were shared with us. I feel mentally alive and excited for my journalism class.” -Lesley Lee
“I think the Cal Matters’ Youth Journalism Initiative has created a tangible path for my school to have access to journalism. Additionally, it was a joy and inspiration to collaborate with invested educators from across the state who care about accessibility to opportunity as much as I do.” -Devon’te Jameson
“I cannot emphasize enough how I have been impacted! I am so excited to be a part of this program and participate in the future of journalism. This professional development has been among the best I have had in my 25 years of teaching. All of it has been engaging. It has not felt like work for one minute.” -Tamara Storms
“I feel like this fellowship thus far has provided me a space to grow, reflect, reach and connect. This is the first time in my life where I feel like the work that I do in my journalism classroom is truly valued. I am so grateful for CalMatters, the donors, and the people who helped create this opportunity to invest in me, and for trusting that I will be able to help grow our community’s future journalists.” -Brittney Hawkins