It was lights, camera and action Wednesday as Gian Wessel and Grace Bueckendorf sat at the virtual anchor desk at Kansas University’s KUJH-TV.
The potential future anchor duo from Wildwood, Mo., taped a newscast wrapping up the Kansas Journalism Institute, a weeklong camp training the next generation of print, broadcast and online journalists.
More than 100 high school students took part in KJI, where KU faculty taught skills needed to compete in an industry requiring journalists increasingly to be jacks-of-all-trades.
“We have two goals: to make them better at telling stories and strengthen high school journalism, and to get them interested in taking up the profession,” said KJI director Jeff Browne. He tries to soften the grim news of cutbacks and layoffs in the news industry.
“We talk about the fact that journalism itself has more consumers today than there ever have been,” Browne said. “They just consume that news through all different platforms.”
Many of the students already write for school papers that have become multimedia operations. Grace Rexroat and Ali Staples, the social media and online editors of the newspaper at Blue Valley Northwest High School in Overland Park, learned basic aspects of broadcast journalism at KJI.
“The skills I learn here will really help me whatever I do,” said Rexroat, who manages her paper’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. But Staples admitted she’s “a little scared” about the future of journalism.
Taylor Ingram, a junior at a St. Louis high school, said KJI helped stoke her desire to be a writer.
“If it’s my passion and I love it, I’ll be OK,” she said. “Opportunities will always open up somewhere.”