Hofstra hosts PCLI-funded Journalism Institute

Saarah Braithwaite, left, and Kimberly Flobil, both of Elmont High School, showed off their certificates and Hofstra University gear after recently completing the High School Summer Journalism Institute. Photo by Scott Brinton/Herald

Ten students — eight from Elmont Memorial High School and two from Hempstead High — recently took part in Hofstra University’s annual High School Summer Journalism Institute, led by Professors Scott Brinton and Peter Goodman, the institute’s co-directors.

The program was funded by grants from the New York Press Association and Press Club of Long Island.

Throughout the weeklong program, students learned how to research, write and polish news and feature stories about issues facing their schools, families and communities. They worked side by side with Brinton and Goodman, and then pitched their stories at the end of the week for possible publication on liherald.com, the website of Herald Community Newspapers, for which Brinton is executive editor. Students also attended mini-workshops with local journalists as well as faculty members from the Herbert School.

The students came from diverse racial, cultural and economic backgrounds. The intent of the program is to increase exposure to and interest in the news among young people of color in the hope that they might enter the journalism field one day in the near future. A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that minority journalists comprise only 5 percent of local newsrooms across the country, although higher numbers were reported in major metropolitan areas.

Hofstra Professor Mario Gonzalez taught a workshop on photography and videography as part of the program. Photo by Scott Brinton/Herald

“The Summer Journalism Institute is intense, fast-paced and just plain fun. The idea is to expose young people to what I believe is the most amazing field there is — journalism,” said Brinton, who is PCLI’s vice president. “Young people are the future of the profession, and we need people of all backgrounds in our nation’s newsrooms to make sure that we are fairly and honestly covering everyone. That’s what the institute is all about.”

Institute participants were selected on the basis of academic performance and a demonstrated interest in writing or storytelling. They were:

  • Kaylah Agard, sophomore, Elmont High
  • Mikelley Baptiste, junior, Elmont High, of Elmont
  • Saarah Braithwaite, senior, Elmont High, of Elmont
  • Kendy Cordova, senior, Hempstead High, of Hempstead
  • Kimberly Flobil, senior, Elmont High, of Elmont
  • Karyse Gocoul, 2017 graduate, Elmont High, of Valley Stream
  • Jennifer Hernandez, junior, Hempstead High, of Elmont
  • Rodney Legrand, senior, Elmont High, of Elmont
  • Venette Simon, senior, Elmont High, of Valley Stream
  • Munahil Sultana, sophomore, Elmont High, of Valley Stream

Stuart Richner, publisher of Herald Community Newspapers, led Summer Institute participants on a tour of the Heralds’ Garden City headquarters. Photo by Scott Brinton/Herald

“The Institute gives students a head start in entering a field that, especially today, is very important to the way our society functions, and is crucial to understanding our world and finding ways to improve the lives of all Americans,” Goodman said.

During the week, students:

  • Visited with Evan Cornog, dean of Hofstra’s Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, who greeted participants and discussed with them his love of reporting and writing, including a few recent assignments that he has covered.
  • Toured the Hofstra University campus.
  • Toured Herald Community Newspapers’ Garden City headquarters. Stuart Richner, the papers’ co-publisher and owner, led the tour, taking students throughout the 80,000-square-foot facility, including into its press room, where students were able to watch as papers were printed. A pizza party with Herald staff members, held in the papers’ board room, capped off the day.
  • Learned photography and videography in a workshop led by Mario Gonzalez, a Hofstra professor and former News 12 and Newsday videographer.
  • Took in a show at the Hofstra Museum, titled, “Converging Voices: Gender and Identity.” Elizabeth Dysart, the museum’s education director, led a workshop for the students, who then wrote show reviews for publication in the Herald.
  • Met with Vanessa Parker, the Franklin Square-Elmont Herald editor, to pitch their stories on the final day. A party with cake followed. All students received Hofstra certificates, swag bags and Lawrence Herbert School T-shirts for their participation in the program, along with small stipends.

Vanessa Parker, editor of the Franklin Square-Elmont Herald, worked one-on-one with Mikelley Baptiste, an Elmont High junior. Photo by Scott Brinton/Herald

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