At times, the Cayman Islands’ changing media landscape can seem challenging to navigate with different types of news, content styles and digital platforms. To help young people better understand the evolving media landscape, seven local media houses teamed up with Camana Bay Times and Dart’s Minds Inspired programme to present the inaugural Journalism & Media Summer Camp last month.
The camp, which ran for seven days, was attended by 14 students aged 12 to 17 years old. The programmes and activities of the Minds Inspired initiative typically focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the journalism camp paired well with its ethos.
“Modern journalists and media professionals rely on technology to gather and share the content they produce," said Pilar Bush, Dart executive vice president of marketing with responsibility for community development. "We wanted to help high school students consider careers in media and journalism, and see how the work is enabled by technology."
Partnering media houses included Cayman Current, Cayman News Service, Cayman Marl Road, Loop Cayman, Caymanian Times, Radio Cayman and Compass Media.
Seasoned experts from the local media entities facilitated classroom sessions on news writing for print, radio and video; journalism ethics; court reporting; sports and weather news; careers in media; business models; the relevance of social media; and content discernment.
Students also toured the Cayman Islands Courts, Radio Cayman and Compass Media as part of the camp’s activities.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in the journalism and media summer camp, and to meet some of Cayman's bright and talented students,” said Patrick Brendel of Cayman Current. “Even if they choose to follow career paths outside of journalism, I think the information provided to them during the camp will make them more discerning consumers of news media as adults."
Compass Media Editor-in-chief Kevin Morales shared a similar sentiment. “Compass Media believes in the importance of journalism and developing an interest in the industry among young Caymanians is of the utmost importance to us," he said. "We were happy to see the level of participation in this inaugural camp and hope to one day read these same students’ names on the bylines and credits of the stories we read and watch every day."
Ralph Lewis of Caymanian Times said he hoped the camp sowed the seeds for more growth in the journalism and media industry. "As the Fourth Estate, media and the free press demand recognition not only from residents, but also the youth who are choosing their desired careers," he said. "The Journalism & Media Summer Camp facilitated by Minds Inspired is a step in the right direction and I hope that we will see more interest in this profession in the future.”
Other experienced journalists also shared their knowledge with the campers. Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Centre for Journalism & Trauma based at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, and Cayman Sports Buzz journalist Ben Meade lent their expertise and industry knowledge through virtual sessions. Former locally practising journalists Tammi Sulliman, Alan Markoff, Jay Ehrhart and Lennon Christian taught classroom sessions based on their experiences and shared insight into their personal transitions to current professions.
For 14-year-old camp participant Ethan Bodden, the journalism camp was an experience he won’t soon forget.
“The camp was amazing. I met new people and had some excellent experiences,” said Bodden. “I know others may think journalism is boring, but I now have a whole new understanding of news and entertainment. I really do hope they have another camp and I thank all of the media houses and Minds Inspired for the opportunity.”
Students worked in groups to submit a print or video storytelling assignment. On the final day, they presented their assignments to their colleagues and panel of industry experts, receiving certificates for their participation.
A condensed and edited version of one of those projects appears on page 17 in this newspaper. The original submission, as well as the submissions by the other students, can be viewed on the Cayman Current website at caymancurrent.org.
Bush said she was grateful to all of the local media partners and Shapiro for participating in the inaugural camp.
"They helped the students distinguish between different types of media content, helped one teen who already runs his own digital news outlet and inspired a few to consider a career in this expansive and exciting industry."
This article appears in print in the September 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Tammi Sulliman.
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