Journalism school to offer workshop for high school students

Contact: Jean Hardiman, University Relations Specialist, 304-696-6397

Marshall University’s W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications has been selected by the Dow Jones News Fund as one of 10 programs nationally to participate in a summer high school workshop with a health and wellness theme.

Burnis Morris, the Carter G. Woodson Professor at Marshall, will direct the program. Morris created and has directed a high school journalism workshop program at Marshall since 2009. The school will use the health and wellness theme to explore the Huntington region as the epicenter of opioid recovery efforts, he said.

"Our faculty are delighted to be recognized by Dow Jones News Fund as one of the best schools in the country that can train future journalists for responsible reporting," said Morris, who received other grants from DJNF to operate workshops for students and teachers as a faculty member at the University of Mississippi.

He and his colleagues at the workshop "will go beyond teaching students to be fair and accurate. We also will emphasize the need to be sensitive to the impact of their printed words and videos," he said. "In our proposal, we stated we want students to realize they do not work in a vacuum, that their brand of journalism can make important contributions by telling the stories of people and communities undergoing healing."

Morris said the school will partner with the Herald-Dispatch, which previously funded most of Marshall’s high school journalism workshops over the past decade. The school also is receiving support from Marshall’s Academic Affairs office, student media and the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum.

Les Smith, editor of the Herald-Dispatch and regional executive editor of the newspaper’s parent company, HD Media, said his newsroom staff is looking forward to working once again with high school students in Marshall’s summer workshop. The focus on examining the impact of the opioid epidemic also blends well with the H-D newsroom’s experience.

"Virtually all of our reporters and editors have dealt with stories related to the opioid epidemic and community efforts to combat it, including the increased emphasis on helping people free themselves from the harmful consequences of addiction," Smith said. "And a few of our reporters have had extensive experience in covering the topic, so they will have plenty of information and suggestions for the students as they explore the various issues involved.

"We also appreciate the Dow Jones News Fund making this educational opportunity available for students considering a career in the important field of journalism."

Students interested in the program should visit for details and to apply online. The workshop is scheduled for June 23-28. Deadline for applications is May 11.

Applicants are expected to be good students and must submit a letter of support from a teacher and permission to participate from a parent or guardian. Those selected for the program will receive free tuition and room and board. Students also will not pay a registration fee.

Students over several days will study major principles of journalism, including introduction to reporting techniques, writing, the art of interviewing, graphic design, media law, story shaping, photography, video production and use of social media. Students will write and produce articles with assistance from Herald-Dispatch reporters and editors, and they will create videos in the school’s Disruption Laboratory, a hi-tech facility where they will use newer equipment such as VR headsets and 360 cameras. Students will develop a documentary photo essay in which they will tell visual stories about a person or place with photography and text, and they will create a social portrait video documentary.

"Students will work alongside professional journalists in their newsroom habitats and be introduced to the power of journalism and its ability to address human suffering," Morris said. "Student outcomes as such will also emphasize outreach activities embracing the view that the essence of journalism is not simply what news people produce in columns and air time, but concern that their storytelling has consequences for individuals in both newsrooms and the communities they serve. Outreach, therefore, is an essential element in journalism routines that is addressed specifically in our workshop proposal."

DJNF is a strong supporter of journalism education and states its mission as follows:

"The mission of the Dow Jones News Fund is to promote careers in journalism in the digital age. Our vision is robust news media staffed by well-trained, innovative journalists who reflect America’s diversity and are dedicated to a free, strong and fair press. The Fund is a nonprofit foundation supported by Dow Jones and other media companies."

DJNF is also a charter member of the Woodson Lyceum’s Maple Grove Society, which is a support group for the organization named in honor of the "Father of Black History."

For more information, please contact Morris at

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