News Release

JOURNALISM BOOT CAMP TESTS WRITER'S METTLE

For some untrained journalists, the experience of working for a newspaper in Washington, D.C. would have all the appeal of jumping into a tank of hungry sharks. Trinity senior Jocelyn Black seized the opportunity to take the plunge and flourished in her initial venture as an aspiring news reporter.

The Chicago native was one of 15 students selected to participate in the Summer Institute of Journalism sponsored by the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities. The intense four-week journalism boot camp proved to Black, a communication arts major, that she has the ability to establish a fulfilling career.

"The Institute opened my eyes to what journalism is all about," she said. "I had the least experience of all the students who were there, but I was encouraged when I learned that many journalists don't have an extensive background in this field. It confirmed to me that I can make it with hard work.

"The people who led the Institute said they took a chance on me because they detected my ambition to become a journalist. They helped me make the adjustment to my surroundings. My writing skills got better, and I got an A- for the program. I think I made a positive impression."

The program, which lasted into the middle of June, required Black to submit one article per week to a newspaper in or near her hometown. She served as a correspondent for the Daily Southtown, headquartered in Tinley Park, Illinois, and each of her articles highlighted local angles of national stories. Most of her coverage centered on the bustling activity on Capitol Hill.

"I was quite nervous when I first arrived, especially while I was trying to familiarize myself with 'the Hill.' My first two weeks felt like a year because I was learning so many things about D.C., the program, journalism.it was almost overwhelming.

"Politics is the heartbeat of Washington. Everything seems to revolve around the government, so there was always something to cover. Once I became comfortable, my last two weeks passed pretty quickly. I enjoyed getting to know the people I interviewed, and they were willing to open up to me."

Black also experienced the uncertainty that Washington residents live with on a regular basis due to the capital city's exposure to terrorism. A bomb scare gave her a new respect for journalists and a different perspective about life.

"I was in the Capitol on the day that President (Ronald) Reagan's body was supposed to lie in state when the building was evacuated because of a bomb threat. I believed I was going to die because I knew I couldn't outrun a bomb. I admire those who go overseas to cover the war because they deal with threats of that nature constantly.

"That incident showed me what priority my career should have in my life. I learned that for a lot of journalists, their careers demand so much of their time. Many of them sacrifice time with their families and other personal interests that I'm not sure I want to make."

Black is considering a career in public relations after she graduates in May if she does not pursue journalism. She believes the Institute gave her a preview of how her professional life will unfold, whichever route she chooses.

"One of my mentors in Washington told me that I don't necessarily have to be a good writer, but I have to be a good rewriter," she said. "He stressed the importance of proofreading, editing, and double-checking because that is what helps good writers become great writers. Regardless of which field I enter, I know I have to continue writing and improving my skills. I have a lot to learn, but I'm excited about what lies ahead."

Related Links:
Jocelyn's Journals & Photos
Student Tapped As D.C. Correspondant For Newspaper


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