Professional Writers’ Guild and High School Journalists

Bay Area Professional Writers’ Guild Attends Poynter Institute’s High School Journalism Week

Bonnie Quick is the president of the Bay Area Professional Writers’ Guild, a nonprofit network of freelance, nonfiction and fiction writers in the Tampa Bay area. We invited Quick as a guest writer to share her organization’s recent experience at the Poynter Institute’s High School Journalism Week. — Editor


Students in the main teaching area.

On June 12, 2019, three Bay Area Professional Writers’ Guild (BAPWG) members—Donna Parrey, Steve Traiman, and Bonnie Quick, went to The Poynter Institute to have lunch with the participants in the weeklong High School Journalism Program. Later we broke into small groups to coach students on their personal essays, a key part of the curriculum.

This event, held June 10-14, included 27 students, ages 14-17 from 19 High and Middle Schools in the Bay Area. Whether or not each participant is going on to a career in writing, no doubt the things taught will help them improve their observation skills, learn how to interview people, and to check facts.

Key planners and coordinators for the High School Journalism week include Andrew DeLong, Poynter Teaching and Event Services Coordinator; Ian Lindsay, Teacher in Residence and Journalism Teacher at John Hopkins Middle school; and Sean Marcus, Seminar Director and Director High School Journalism Program, U. S. Language and Literature Teacher, Carrollwood Day School.

The important factors needed to get the best copy for a business letter, case study, meeting minutes, online report, article for magazine, news story or thesis were part of this week’s curriculum.  Working professionals and teachers guided the students on the elements in a story.  In this case it is a personal essay, which each student brought through the many stages of creating a finished product, culminating in reading out loud for the group on Friday afternoon.

All week long they were treated to topics such as: Roy Peter Clark’s, Writing Tools, The Personal Essay, The power of the story, How to find and talk to sources, Photojournalism, WSTP studio tour, Media Wise fact checking, Essay coaching by Poynter faculty and Bay Area Professional Writers’ Guild, Storytelling tools to make your work sing online.  Team story telling/interviewing activities.  Editing is your friend.

Whether you are a book writer, fiction or non-fiction, an article writer, a photographer, news reporter or photojournalist, a painter, performing artist or musician, writing in a clear concise fashion is invaluable. Getting your story out there will help you find out what you want to do, how you do it and how to unleash your creative spirit.

Quick returned on Friday afternoon to listen as the students each read their completed work and received their diplomas. Here are just a few highlights:

Kiernan wrote of his Great grandfather’s funeral in Ireland and how he met the man …“that he had disregarded until too late. There was much I wanted to ask him, but it took too long for me to think what to ask.”

Ethan wrote about pain. “We must stick together. The only thing that can heal is love. All people yearn for connections. “

A continuous theme was to stop settling for mediocrity and being taken care of. One student wrote about being an activist and she reminded us of the importance of not underestimating the power of the individual.  Angie wrote about being in a band and that “We created music and told a story together.”

Lincoln was injured and found himself out for the season in basketball but “I am a warrior,” he said.  “Still, as the season ends, depression rises. “

One student noted, “This is mostly a journalism class but includes writing in general and how to improve.” The kids liked “talking to peers with common interests”

The Poynter Institute is a global leader in journalism. It is the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform the citizens in the 21st Century.

Channel 10 News WTSP and the Tampa Bay Times sponsor the weeklong program along with other generous individuals, among which BAPWG is proud to be included.

We pay a partial scholarship and provide coaching support that fits in with our Mission statement:

To support and promote the development

and the advancement of the art of writing.

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