Journalism Students Attend Baruch Journalism Conference and Win at Newsies Competition

Over one hundred high school students and advisers flooded the Baruch College lobby on March 10 in anticipation for the 2023 Baruch College High School Journalism Conference, which also included the Newsies awards competition. Inside the massive venue, rows of circular tables filled with faculty and students from several New York City public high schools.

Seating area in the main venue of the event and Newsies competition.

Most notably during the event were various workshops taught by professional journalists. These workshops ranged from “Writing Compelling Ledes” with Jere Hester, to “Effective Sports Reporting” with Randal Archibold.

“I think this conference changed the way I view journalism because it helped me to understand that journalism is not just for journalists, but for everyone,” senior and Editor-in-Chief Ayanna Hunter said.  “Now, before publishing or writing an article, I am more conscious of the impact of my words and how they can affect readers or even those I interviewed for the article.”

One of the workshops a part of the event. Randal Archibold is discussing how he used to be a chemistry major in college until switching to journalism.

Four award-winning schools with newly-created journalism programs attended the event as well. Despite being a freshman at Queens High School for the Sciences, Julia Gelman was the founder of her school’s paper.

“I actually founded our newsletter I think somewhere in the beginning of the year,” Gelman said. “I was a freshman and I realized our school didn’t have a newsletter so I went out to the social worker for our school. I worked with her to found a newsletter highlighting many achievements of our community.”

In the Newsies competition, Francis Lewis won first place in Multimedia, second place in Photojournalism, and second place for overall best online newspaper in New York City. Francis Lewis students attending the conference found the workshops to be extremely worthwhile and beneficial to their high school journalism experience.

“I attended a workshop that discussed ethics and law in journalism,” Hunter said.  “In this workshop I learned about things to consider before writing, editing, and publishing an article.”

“Furthermore, I learned that we, as journalists, are held accountable for the articles we write and therefore it is important to ensure that the information in our article(s) won’t result in a lawsuit,” Hunter added.  

Students from journalism programs were able to take away knowledge from the workshops, gaining “many different perspectives on writing.”

“I think, as an editor, I definitely learned a lot of tips for dealing with reporters and making sure they’re hitting the correct points,” Gelman said. “Also, to make sure that as an editor myself, I am not being overly pushy or overly lenient with the story matter.”

Hasani Gittens was one of several professional journalists who hosted a workshop.  He discussed how he thinks his lesson can help students, especially those of color.

“I hope that if anything, some of the points I made and some of the insights are good for anybody, especially students of color,”Gittens said. “Just seeing successful black journalists is good for their life and things like that.”

Hasani Gittens lecturing on different story editing strategies. When he was in college, he initially was a computer science major until he discovered journalism. He also judged the awards for this competition.

Although some schools did not participate in the Newsies competition, students from John Bowne High School still utilized the workshop on “Errors in Ethical Writing” to their advantage.

“I feel it was 100% worth coming because at first they were so respectful and nice which made you feel comfortable,” John Bowne junior Sarah Ahamd said. “I didn’t know journalism was this powerful to other people and I feel like seeing them talk about journalism and everything about it. Meeting new people and hearing their new ideas, articles and seeing new schools like Francis Lewis.”

Gittens, who was also one of the judges, gave greater insight into what high school journalists could improve in their writing.

“I think that a lot of the articles probably write too windy, like the paragraphs are too long and there are too many words,” Gittens added. “I think a lot of the writing could be tighter, switched up and edited.”

When asked what are the most important aspects of a good paper, Gittens also discussed what he thinks makes an article.

“I was looking for an overall presentation like layout, the pictures and how it looks,” Gittens added. “Headlines, like are they good, are they compelling, are they going to make me want to type. Then in the article, what types of stories, what are they about, are they about things interesting to students, things that are relevant or is it just filler.”

Baruch journalism students (including Francis Lewis alumni Caryl Anne Francia left centered) and Hasani Gittens field questions and talk about their experiences as journalists.

Caryl Anne Francia, an FLHS alum who is now the Business Editor for The Ticker (Baruch’s paper), believes that the conference, alongside its value in improving the skills of student journalists, can also improve student interest in journalism.

“The purpose of this was to give students the experience and it might have piqued their interest,” Francia said. “This competition motivates you but just being here builds you to be a good writer because you are exposed to alot more people and a lot more research.”

Every aspiring student journalist went home that day having gained an important piece to their potential future in journalism– whether it was knowledge or motivation– according to Gittens.

“It is acknowledgement that even if you don’t win, the fact that you’re even nominated is an accomplishment,” Gittens said.