ESSPA Offers Learning Opportunity for HS Students ESSPA Offers Learning Opportunity for HS Students

NY high school students come to the ESSPA Conference to grow as journalists.

Syracuse, N.Y.  (NCC News) — The annual Empire State School Press Association (ESSPA) Conference was hosted by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University on Oct. 18. Participants had the opportunity to meet with industry professionals to learn about how to be engaging, truthful and ethical journalists. Jeffrey Newell, a media and communications teacher from the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central, said he’s proud of his students’ passion for what they do.

“The kids who are here are not here for a grade, they’re here for their futures, they want their voices amplified and heard and these are the professionals that can help propel them to get that voice out there,” Newell said. “The thing that’s great about all of my kids is that they know a lot but they’re not know-it-alls. They can learn things from different perspectives and different strategies.”

Only 26% of American adults have a favorable opinion of the news media, according to a study conducted by Gallup and the Knight Foundation. This year’s results are the lowest they’ve been since the poll was started in 2017. Alex Dunbar, a journalism professor at the Newhouse School, said the polarization in today’s society is extending to journalism.

“People are expecting journalists to tell them the things they want to hear. That expectation is not reasonable and it gets people very upset,” Dunbar said. “They don’t like when journalism presents a difficult truth or a story that they don’t want to know.”

We’ve seen more people frustrated because of outlets that cater to a certain political viewpoint that they don’t agree with, according to Dunbar. He also said it’s important to teach aspiring journalists about ethics and that he believes his journalism ethics class is one of the most important classes the Newhouse School offers.

“A lot of the skills, they can continue to evolve and people get better and the more you do it you get better the more things you write the better you get, but ethics is within you, it is, those are values where you have them or you don’t,” Dunbar said.

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