Student journalist: Greene Team exceeds expectations


By Yaw Bonsu
Baldwin Senior High School

As a sportswriter, I went into the Robert W. Greene Institute for High School Journalists in July looking to improve my digital journalism skills. But over my five days at Stony Brook University, I learned that there is more to journalism than just writing a sports blog.

My knowledge of different forms of journalism expanded greatly.  This included skills of photojournalism, videography, video editing, print journalism, digital journalism, producing, interviewing and anchoring.

The lessons taught throughout the boot camp were things that would probably take a college student a semester to master. I only had a few hours.

The 24 Greene Team members were split into teams. Over the course of the six days, each team was charged with creating different news packages that had to consist of an article, photos, b-roll and interviews.

My jobs throughout the week included interviewing and writing for two required news packages. In addition, I  wrote an optional third article.

Our first assignment was covering Stony Brook University’s new indoor turf facility currently being constructed. As an athlete, I was fortunate to do a story about athletics and immediately jumped into the opportunity to do interviews.

The Greene Institute did an excellent job giving the students creative freedom. Although the program coordinators gave us our first stories, I was given the opportunity to generate my own questions, which made the interviews that much easier.

However, as well as those interviews went, there was still another story for my team for complete. And for me, two stories. The second story took my team to Bethpage Ballpark, home to the Long Island Ducks.

To my benefit, this was another sports-related story that I was fortunate enough to cover. Each team got to choose what Ducks topic they would be covering.

What was interesting about my story was that it was about  the Automated Ball-Strike System, or “Robo-Ump.” Once again, I got the chance to interview, but this time it was random fans at the ballpark who were in front of the camera. Although talking to strangers sounded difficult, it was just another normal conversation that made for some overall great news. That concluded my team’s time in the field.

My third story expanded my horizons and took me to the world of diversity, equity and inclusion. I spent more thaan four hours writing, editing, going through film and pulling out the most notable quotes.

The Greene Institute allowed me to work with Paul Schreiber, a former Newsday editor and SBU professor and administrator. For each hour I worked on the article, Schreiber was there to assist me every step of the way. Of all the encounters I had with editors, none was more valuable.

He told me what I was doing wrong as well as the things he taught his own students. Even when the article was finished, Schreiber gave me a one-on-one mini-lesson on the ethics of journalism, which I will forever cherish.

Outside all of the photo-taking, b-roll, interviewing and editing, what happened after is what separates the Greene Institute from other journalism programs.

The number of journalists and editors who took time out  to assist me in creating the news packages was mind-blowing. From Newsday to News 12 to the Press Club of Long Island, every professional had the same mission. And that was to help us put out the best news packages possible.

Beyond that, what captivated me most were the connections I made. Bill Bleyer and Chris Vaccaro from the Press Club were two of the most valuable connections that I made over the course of the program.

Bleyer is a proven and polished professional who gave me insight into how I can better not just my skills, but also my career. Vaccaro was the closest professional I encountered in regards to sports media. Internship opportunities and career growth were two things I did not think I would receive from this program. But thanks to Bleyer and Vaccaro, that is becoming more of a reality.

This institute did more than make me a better journalist. It connected me to people who will be essential to my career going forward. All 39 faculty members and volunteers had the goal of making me a better team player, writer, video editor and photographer.

The Robert W. Greene Institute of High School Journalists simply was an experience like no other. The skills that I gained are ones that I will look to bring to my high school in the upcoming school year. The institute has provided me with lesson that I can take back not only to my peers but also some of my teachers as well.

This is only the start of my journalism journey. With the friends and connections I made at the boot camp, I am now on the path towards success in the field of journalism.

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