My experience at the Urban Journalism Workshop

Imagine sitting at a desk for nearly 12 hours straight surrounded by a bright computer screen, and a host of other students doing the same thing, their only connection to the outside world being a telephone

This sounds like the last thing a teenager would want to do over summer vacation, but I know firsthand that sitting at a computer and typing the day away was the best experience of my life.

GETTING THE FACTS—Students listen intently while taking notes at the Urban Journalism Workshop.

That’s because the Frank E. Bolden Urban Journalism Workshop, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, is so much more than hard work and phone calls.

As a participant in the workshop, I got to see daylight, and experienced the world around me in a way I had never before through the endless opportunities put in front of me.

I was immediately inaugurated into the print section of the workshop, which is also comprised of Web, photo, radio and broadcast programs. Famous for being the least desired section, I wasn’t expecting much other than a chance to develop my writing.

To my surprise, I fell in love with print, which helped me discover my talents as a journalist that I had shunned for so long. Contributing to the paper production, named the Urban Agenda, I honed my skills with the help of media affiliates from newspaper editors to successful workshop alumni.

Everyday at the workshop was indeed work, as Chris Moore, one of the directors, was true to his words on the first day that, “This is not a playshop.” Our hard work had many rewards, and each activity contributed to an invaluable experience in our makeshift newsroom and outside, as this group of students from all walks of life came together to work hard and play hard.

We were constantly busy, from attending a Pirates game and vying to be put on the jumbotron to studying for the daily news quiz in hopes of winning the cash prize to collaborating on the production of an original song at YaMomzHouse studios in East Liberty to spending late hours trying to make deadlines.

Our cumulative efforts produced a published newspaper, radio show, Web page and a KDKA-TV newscast that rivaled those of media professionals.

MALE PRESENCE—Even though the workshops were dominated by females, there were more males this year.

More than anything, the workshop helped open doors to all the possibilities in journalism and other media fields. We heard from various speakers who provided an insight on everything imaginable from writing a column, race relations, news media, internships, note-taking; interviews, getting hired by editors. Tours at KDKA-TV studios, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Tribune Review and Heinz Endowment provided us with the opportunity to network and meet people from a multitude of fields within the media and beyond.

I will never forget the people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the doors that have been opened, and all that I got to experience that wouldn’t have been possible without this workshop (most notably, Mr. Moore’s signature wakeup method, one that you have to see to believe).

Directors and instructors Chris Moore, Olga George, Rasheda Brockinson, Lisa Kay Davis and Carmen Lee made the workshop an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I thank them all for giving me the chance to pursue my interest in such a rigorous and exciting environment.

I left the workshop realizing that possibilities and opportunities aren’t handed to you; everything depends on your attitude and determination, a lesson I hope to implement regardless of my future career path.

I will apply to attend the workshop again next year, and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have an amazing experience learning about what surrounds them, and even more about themselves.

(For more information about the Urban Journalism Workshop, go to

(Written by Rachel Woods, Courier intern.)


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