I was fortunate enough to spend eight whole days this summer in the heart of our nation, Washington D.C. Even better, I spent that time at Georgetown University for a broadcast journalism summer program!
I’ve been really interested in broadcast journalism and television reporting, so I decided this summer camp would be the ideal opportunity to learn more. Washington D.C. is where it all happens, where all the news is unfolded. 99% of all news stories from any corner of the world can affect the politics of our country—so what better place for a journalism camp?
We had an extremely busy and thought-provoking week, from exploring various forms of media to hearing several guest speakers, thanks to our academic director Robert Traynham. Robert is a dean at Georgetown, a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, a political analyst for MSNBC, and a co-host for a show on XM Satellite Radio’s POTUS. I feel really lucky to have been in a class led by such a passionate and diverse journalist. He was definitely an inspiration to us all!
Robert continued to inspire us by inviting numerous speakers. On the first day, we were treated to a lecture by Ken Strickland, the chief of the Washington bureau of NBC. According to Strickland, “every major story has a Washington component,” emphasizing the importance and difficulty of journalism in D.C.
The most interesting aspect I found in Strickland’s lecture was the idea of news organizations being regulators of news for the public. How do they decide between broadcasting ‘news that they want’ and ‘news that they need’? Do news stations really have the interest of educating the public or do they wish to gain better ratings? If it is ‘news that they need,’ how do news organizations have the right to decide what the people should know? These types of questions formed in my mind and reminded me of the incredible responsibility of journalists.
The next day, we took a tour of the Newseum and discussed journalistic ethics, especially focusing on photojournalism. The Pulitzer Prize Gallery at the Newseum was my favorite exhibit because I was never really interested in photography, but this visit showed me the monumental impact of some pictures.
Our next field trip included a visit to XM Satellite Radio station. A host on the POTUS channel, Tim Farley, gave us a tour of the radio station and showed us the specialty of radio and its differences from other media.
We also toured the Capitol that same day and later witnessed a protest march about immigration reform!
Our other guest speaker that day was a speech writer named Michael Klein. I found it interesting that him and other people of his profession enjoy being ghost writers, proving that they cherish the challenge of writing in someone else’s voice more than the glory of a great speech.
A visit to the National Press Club followed the next day, where we heard from my personal favorite guest speaker—Juan Williams. He reminded us that behind all the technicalities such as writing style and interview techniques, journalists must always go back to the primary requirement of their jobs—curiosity.
Our last guest speaker, Barbara Feinman-Todd, talked to us the next day after we watched The Mighty Heart and focused more on investigative journalism. Todd is a professor at Georgetown, who started The Pearl Project with Asra Nomani, to find out what really happened to Daniel Pearl—a reporter who was held hostage and killed in Pakistan post 9/11. She also said something that is very sad, but true: “There will always be great stories to write because there’s so much in the world that’s messed up.” I found it amazing that even after the Daniel Pearl case was closed, Todd, Nomani, and other Georgetown students were able to dig deeper and find more answers. Her unique story shed light on the courage and persistence required in journalism.
Apart from speakers and field trips, any remaining time we had was spent working on our Capstone projects—an assignment to create a two to three minute relevant documentary/news story. The kids in our program also bonded as a group through small discussions, Instagram photo challenges, and a trip to a Washington Nationals’ baseball game.
Overall, I had an awesome experience because the trip was a perfect combination of academics and fun. Surprisingly, this broadcast journalism institute wasn’t all about broadcast journalism. There is so much more that I will remember and treasure forever: the cool people I met, new friends I made, independent living on campus, and unique Georgetown traditions!
I’m really thankful for this wonderful opportunity. It has gotten me extremely excited for college along with giving me an in-depth view of a field I love!