SJMC launches first-ever “Mentor Session Series” at Austin high schools

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.17.54 AMThe Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication launched its first-ever Mentor Session Series this week with an opportunity to talk to students from two Austin high schools.

SJMC faculty members Kym Fox, an associate professor of practice in journalism, and Dale Blasingame, a digital media lecturer, spoke to journalism and computer science students from Akins and Bowie high schools Thursday evening. The discussion centered on media jobs of the future. Many of the 30 or so students in attendance are currently enrolled in a newspaper and digital media class taught by Akins teacher David Doerr, a 2005 SJMC graduate.

This is the first in a series of mentor sessions for SJMC faculty.

“Like so many journalists, I found my passion for the profession in high school,” Fox said. “I think universities have an obligation to foster the next generation of journalists, and too many high schools are left without support from either the profession or academia.”

Much of the mentor series presentation focused on data journalism. Students were shown several examples of high-quality data projects and got their hands on a real data set to organize and ask questions of. Fox and Blasingame also explained the skills needed to find a job in the ever-changing media landscape.

“I was so impressed with the students who took part,” Blasingame said. “They already had experience with coding, data and spreadsheets. That’s more than a lot of professional journalists can say. It’s encouraging to see high school programs like this.”

You can view examples of the Akins HS journalism class by visiting its website or following along on Twitter.

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