After loading us with theory and arming us with methodologies, the creators of this course launched us into the field with a short-term assignment: Produce a piece of community journalism while meeting the needs of your host news organization.
In my case, the host organization was the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg. This non-profit organization that teaches journalists around the world how to be better journalists, owns the St. Petersburg Times ... and also Tampa Bay Newspapers, for whom I wrote.
They were gracious hosts indeed -- gave me my own office with telephone, Internet access and use of the copy & fax machines and of their extensive library. Provided coffee and an assortment of teas. Even a meal or two or three.
More important, they provided friendly interest, probing questions and expert guidance as I explored elementary, middle, and high school newsrooms in the area. My focus, I thought, was going to be on how the high school programs were changing. It ended up being slightly different, and that is a subject for a different post.
In the meantime, here are two videos I produced at two of the high schools I visited. Hillsborough High in Tampa is home to The Red & Black, Florida's oldest high school newspaper, first published in 1899. At Palm Harbor University High School in Pinellas County, publishers of The Eye, I focused on yearbook journalism.