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Public Affairs

Extra! Extra! Young journalists publish SFSU paper

July 19, 2004

Photo of the front page of Golden Gate Xpress 2.0High school students from around the Bay Area put their newswriting talents to the test during a two-week intensive writing and reporting workshop hosted by SFSU's Journalism Department and Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism (CIIJ) late last month.

For the 15th year, the Bay Area Multicultural Media Academy (BAMMA) brought 18 teens from 14 Bay Area high schools in underserved communities to SFSU for a brief but in-depth introduction to writing, reporting and the journalism business. BAMMA provides the workshop free to high school students so they can develop skills as journalists that will be useful in college and beyond.

"I learned how to write a structured article, with a lead and graphs, and how to be articulate," said BAMMA student Rodrael Guadalupe, a junior at Oakland School of the Arts.

During the workshop, the high school students reported on events and wrote articles for a 24-page issue of the Golden Gate [X]press dubbed Golden Gate [X]press 2.0, which is now in circulation on Bay Area high school and college campuses.

"The kids write about everything," said Steve O'Donoghue, program director for the CIIJ. "They covered gay pride, 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' the Araujo case. The students go out with an adult because many of them aren't familiar with San Francisco, but the reporting and photography are all up to them."

"My interviewing skills really improved," said BAMMA student Faran Sikander, a junior at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. "I got a lot of practice asking the right questions when I did interviews at the Gay Pride Parade on Pink Saturday."

BAMMA students undergo an application process requiring writing samples, teacher recommendations and transcripts. Once admitted, the students live in SFSU residence halls, have meals at campus eateries, and attend lectures given by SF State faculty and Bay Area journalists.

The daily schedule is demanding. "Every minute was jam-packed," Guadalupe said. "We were up reading the paper at 7 a.m. and didn't get back to the dorms until 9 at night, and by that time, we were drained."

In one lecture, BAMMA students were encouraged to diversify their skills by learning to write stories for both Web and print media and taking their own photos. Later, Yumi Wilson, assistant professor of journalism, advised them not to take the sometimes scathing remarks of editors personally.

"There's a lot of criticism in journalism," said Wilson, a former Associated Press and San Francisco Chronicle reporter. "When people say your lead isn't working, or you buried your lead, or your whole organization is wrong, it has nothing to do with you. You could be a brilliant writer, and 10, 20 years from now you might become a novelist and make a lot more money than the rest of us, but for now we have rules and once you learn them, you can write anything."

BAMMA isn't all work, though. Fun events are worked into the schedule as well.

This year the students attended a screening of "Fahrenheit 9/11," a Giants game at SBC Park and Comedy Night at Brava Theater in the Mission District. The teens also toured the newsrooms of the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, Univision and Pacific News Service.

"Meeting the other students and getting close to them was the best part of the two weeks for me," said Paula Arciga, a senior at Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa. “We're already planning a reunion."

BAMMA is funded by The Associated Press, California Society of Newspaper Editors, Contra Costa Times Newspapers, Elks Lodge #3, Gap Foundation, High School Newspaper Support Program, KGO-TV, KPIX-TV, The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, The New York Times Foundation, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

-- Public Affairs Student Writer Elizabeth Davis with Matt Itelson


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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications