Editor’s Note: On Wednesday, November 17, five students – from high schools in the Tyrone and Hollidaysburg area – got an insider’s view of the Altoona Mirror headquarters as part of Business and Schools Investing in Cooperative Solutions ( BASICS) of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce. program. This is a recap of their time spent with Mirror staff and their thoughts on journalism.
Judy Rossi, co-chair of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce curriculum development committee, said the BASICS program started in 2010 with the goal of helping students take a close look at a career that interests them.
As high school students look to the future from a career perspective, the program gives them the opportunity to visit a construction site and observe what is going on, she said.
While the Mirror has already participated in the program and hosted students for the day, this year the students have been part of history by talking about what journalism means to them, and they have also stepped out into the community to engage. conversation with residents.
The experience was somewhat revealing, as several students said they wanted to be successful in the news industry, perhaps with the New York Times or the Washington Post. However, most journalists start out in a smaller environment and progress as they gain experience.
Jaci Bickel, an elder at Hollidaysburg Area High School, has always loved writing and has often considered a career in journalism.
With a particular interest in politics and wanting her voice to be heard, she said she wondered what the daily life of a journalist is like and what the job entails.
Bickel and the other students walked into the Mirror’s newsroom, the graphic design and printing department, which houses the Mirror’s double-decker printing press, and witnessed what it takes to publish a printed daily newspaper.
“We wanted to get a glimpse of what this career would be like and really experience what it’s like to work in this industry” said Lexi Woodring, senior at Hollidaysburg, who followed the graphic design department.
Tyrone’s junior Libby Keller took to the second-floor editorial department to see how the newspaper is put together each day, while others interested in career paths as journalists took to the streets to talk with community members.
The group of reporters – which included Bickel as well as Tyrone junior MacKenzie Hyde and Hollidaysburg junior Ivy Loya – were tasked with asking ordinary people a simple question: What are you grateful for?
As they first asked several people the question during their day, students quickly learned how adaptive and interactive writing is.
Questions from “What are you grateful for” turned into engaging conversations – with a local resident excited about her granddaughter’s engagement, a couple spending the holidays alone at home, and a first-generation American, who was just grateful to live on American soil.
Students discovered that newspapers serve the community they find themselves in – from print “good news” such as weddings, birthdays, births and community events for “difficult news” such as court events, fires, school board meetings and tax matters.
Bickel said she thinks the group has learned that âA newspaper cannot stand on its own. It depends on the people in the community.
She also believes that a newspaper should reflect the interests of the community.
âThe community should definitely be represented in the newspaper, especially with a local newspaper like thisâ, Bickel said of the Mirror.
While Bickel said her aspirations as a future journalist revolved around politics and opinion pieces, she said the twinning opportunity has shown her that whatever path she takes in journalism , the community should always come first.
Hyde aspires to become a community journalist, noting that in Tyrone, “The atmosphere in the small town is really strong and I like to see how everyone comes together for community events.”
“I’ve always been interested in community news, and upon entering the Mirror I was really interested to see how newspapers really engage with their communities.” she said.
Several students have already taken the first steps in their journalistic careers.
Hyde is the editor of Tyrone Eagle Eye News, a student-run newspaper [online?] high school newspaper.
“It really helped me confirm that this is what I want to do” Hyde said. âIt really shows how much I appreciate journalism and how much I love it. I really want to make a career out of it.
Loya worked on his craft a bit more in private.
Passionate about art and music, she spends much of her time writing and expressing her feelings about the things that touch her in life.
“Journalism has always interested me”, she said. âI’ve always loved writing and wanted to see what it would be like to write as actual work. I think today (November 17th) really showed me how everything works and what the life of a journalist is like.
Keller followed the editorial department and saw how the journal is checked for spelling, grammar, and accuracy.
She then had the chance to experiment with the design aspect of the paper and was shown how all the stories and photos are collected and how the pages are created.
“It’s interesting to see how everything is finalized and tied together”, Keller said. “It’s really cool to see how the paper was put together.”
Keller is currently working on a degree in English, Literature or Linguistics, but his final goal is to become a writer in “A certain capacity”.
“I think journalism is a very important job, and it’s really interesting” she said.
Woodring saw the newspaper process from a different perspective in the Mirror’s Ad Center, where she observed how graphic designers take a company’s message and develop ad blocks.
Journalism is not at the top of Woodring’s list, with his goals more focused on marketing and communications.
The observation event at the Mirror, however, opened his eyes to additional career choices.
“It was cool to see that this is really a larger branch of communication and marketing” said Woodring. “It was a great experience.”
Thank you for the family
After a day of asking members of their community what they are grateful for, the roles of future journalists were reversed and all the students were pressed with the same question, “What are you grateful for?”
After a difficult year due to COVID-19, Keller said that apart from her family, she is very grateful to be back in school to see her teachers and peers again.
“I am really grateful to have the opportunity to go to school every day” Keller said. âI know a lot of kids struggled when we switched to virtual learning. Personally, I think I have benefited from it, but I think being in person and seeing all of your friends and teachers helps a lot.
The ability to participate in clubs, sports, and other activities is also something students don’t take for granted.
“I am happy and grateful that we can participate in activities again” said Woodring. “Before Covid, this is something you never really thought it would go away.”
A common theme they found in interviews earlier today – family – was the most important value they were also grateful for.
Bickel said she was especially excited to visit her sister, Shelby, in Bellwood for the holidays.
The couple didn’t spend much vacation together growing up, but as they got older their bond blossomed, and Bickel said she was eager to make memories with her sister and nephew.
“Even though she lives close enough, I can’t see her too often” said Bickel. âI am so happy to be able to share this Thanksgiving with her and her family. She is a very important part of my life and I love to see her.
Loya said she is also grateful to her younger sister, Violet, who has been dealing with health issues over the past year.
She said then that she was a “stereotype” older sister in the past, she plans to take care of her sister and be by her side this holiday season.
“I realized how important she really is to me” Loya said.
Hyde is grateful for the opportunities the past year has brought as her family has just moved into a new home with her older sister, Brooke.
With a new roof over her head in a better part of town, Hyde said she was thankful for the little things this year.
“It’s very heartwarming” she said to move into a new house. “It will be good to have everyone under one roof to celebrate Thanksgiving together.”
Mirror staff writer Calem Illig is at 814-946-7535.