Dec. 27, 2013  

Board Members Share Tips With High Schoolers

By Lynn Walsh

Hundreds of high school journalism students came together for the Florida High School Press Associations District 7 conference in October.

With help from South Florida freelance journalist Christiana Lilly, I led sessions addressing how to conduct the perfect interview, using social media as a reporting tool and the First Amendment.

Lilly has presented at FSPA conferences before. “This year we had two packed classrooms and students would come by afterwards to chat more about the topics,” Lilly said. “It’s great to see how excited they are about the field and how much they want to learn.”

This was my first time presenting at FSPA. Before the session, I called my younger brother who just graduated from high school this summer. I asked him what new apps or websites I should be aware of and his advice to me: just don’t talk about hashtags.

I asked him why and he told me they are way overused. if you have seen the Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake skit, then I am sure you can see where he is coming from.

While I agree with my brother, I also feel hashtags, especially when used correctly can be very effective for sharing news and information. A hashtag allows a story you wrote or produced show up on a feed or in a search for someone who might otherwise not be following you.

This creates more buzz for your story. You reach more people. A winning situation for everyone involved if you ask me.

When I shared this and other tips with the students at FSPA, I was surprised at how much they seemed to be learning for the first time. The students were taking notes and asking questions — I felt like we were teaching them something; it was great!

So, while I was a little intimidated to present tech savy tools to people who grew up using this technology, I learned that while they may think hashtags are overused and while they may be able to text faster than I can — there is still a lot they can be taught about good old fashion journalism.

And the even better news is they want to learn about it!

Lynn Walsh is a former Investigative Producer at WPTV, NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach, Florida. She loves holding the powerful accountable and spends more time than she would like fighting for access to public information. Follow her on Twitter and on Tumblr.

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