Anticipating the future of journalism isn’t always easy, with the field in a constant state of flux — but one thing is clear: the future of the industry is inextricably linked with technology. Many schools, though — particularly those in inner-city districts — lack access to the state-of-the-art resources that are required to train students in order for them to be competitive among their peers in college and beyond. And arts education? Forget about it.
That’s why it was so exciting for me to have the opportunity to visit San Francisco’s Out of Site Youth Arts Center last week.
An independent, nonprofit program, Out of Site offers training in visual and performing arts to public-school students who might not otherwise have access to it. The program benefits from a relationship with Lick-Wilmerding, a local, private high school that lends its space and equipment to the center for after-school, weekend, and summer classes.
Subjects range from mural painting and silk-screening to music production and digital media. I was there, obviously, to impart upon the impressionable minds my deep knowledge of silk-screening. Actually, I spoke about WaPo Labs and shared my thoughts on the current state of journalism with the 13 students learning about digital media. The students’ specific media interests vary, but all share a desire to achieve. And the Out of Site program is a great step in that direction.
Students who participate in the four-week, full-day summer session are expected to produce a video using Final Cut, start a WordPress site, and use social media to generate outside interest in their projects. They also learn about traditional journalism topics like copyright and fair use.
During my short talk with the students, I fielded a variety of questions about preparing for a career in media, but my favorite inquiry was whether an aspiring journalist should shoot for a job in a newsroom or on a Labs-style team. I have much love for my newsroom-based colleagues — but Labs FTW!
“The students are awesome,” teacher and journalist Angela Hart told me. “So many started out shy and didn’t know the first thing about video. Now they’re using words like ‘render’ and ‘compress.’”