Press Club of Long Island Treasurer Bill Bleyer, at lectern, chats with students at SUNY Stony Brook’s Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.
Three Press Club of Long Island Board members spent time from July 20-24 at Stony Brook University helping out with the Robert W. Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists.
PCLI is one of the key sponsors of the week-long residential boot camp for high school students. David North spent Thursday helping out with video, and former President Chris Vaccaro helped with editing on Friday and joined with former President Bill Bleyer, who copy-edited the students’ work all week and read their profile assignments before they arrived on campus for a discussion about the benefits of joining the Society of Professional Journalists and its local chapter, PCLI.
By Lily McInerney
I started my week at the Robert W.Greene Summer Institute for High School Journalists by shaking hands with strangers and ended it by hugging friends and colleagues.
That’s journalism for you. It’s easy to become invested in someone else’s story. The first night when we unpacked our stuff and said goodbye to our parents, we wasted no time. Everyone shared their stories and what brought them to the Greene Institute.
We all came from different walks of life: One participant a teen mom, one who was a survivor of the Parkland shooting, one who strived to be a first-generation college student, and one who grew up in a nice community in Westchester. We were all removed from who we were back home and put in a situation to see who we could be. In the end, we didn’t care where anyone had come from. We just wanted to learn about one another.
After getting acquainted, there was a big meeting about story ideas. From the get go, I knew that this was going to be an intense week full of opportunity. I had the chance to learn about the varying parts of journalism: still photography, video editing, broadcast, writing, and how to be a kind, inquisitive human.
Throughout the learning process, it was so cool to see everyone find their niche in the field of journalism. I witnessed a friend unexpectedly find her place in front of the camera acting as a news anchor, I saw her light up. Another friend found her place behind the camera taking photos of Greene participants and of a jazz concert. For me, I can say that I’ve found my place behind a computer or beside a blank notebook page, pen in hand.
The visit to Newsday was one that especially motivated me. It was exciting to see adults working on stories at their desks filled with endless stacks of paper. The idea that the work I’m doing now could transpire into a job where I could be learning about the world more each day is motivating. The image of people working on their stories and pausing to take genuine interest in teens who are in the midst of exploring journalism, has further pushed me to hold myself up to a standard of journalistic excellence.
The next day I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to work. Thursday was the day when my team had to conduct the majority of our interviews. We were working on a story about the place of the arts in a science, math, and medical based school. Our questions that we asked during interviews sparked conversations among film festival and jazz concert attendees. After interviewing people, it was thrilling to see how our own wonder led to other people to voice their opinions among their friends and family.
My team came back to the newsroom invigorated. We immediately buckled down and got to work. Every computer keyboard was clicking rapidly. We were on deadline. Late nights in the newsroom were tiring, but behind each computer sat a young motivated journalist.
After finally finishing our story, video, and editing our photos, a genuine smile washed over my face and my team celebrated. We had made it through the week, and we were proud to see our work come together.
While our work in Stony Brook’s newsroom was done, we knew our work in our high school newsrooms had just begun. Our newfound wealth of knowledge was coming back with us.