High School Journalism Program

High School Journalism Program

May 17, 2019
Teaching Date
June 10-14, 2019
The Poynter Institute, St. Petersburg, Florida

Be a better writer, photographer and multimedia ninja. Learn about the news business from the inside, from local journalists and Poynter’s expert faculty. Understand why journalism matters and how you can be a part of it, whether or not you plan to pursue it as a career.

Apply to be one of a prestigious group of high school students in the Tampa Bay area selected to participate in this intensive Poynter program. This one-week workshop will improve your writing and photography, teach you new ways to use social media and digital storytelling tools, and hone your understanding of journalism’s role in a democracy.

Accepted participants in the High School Journalism Program will:

  • Work with globally-renowned Poynter faculty and local prize-winning journalists 
  • Wrestle with journalism ethics
  • Discover secrets to good storytelling
  • Write a personal narrative (perfect practice for your college application essay!)
  • Create interactive online elements that could become part of your personal or school media website. 

No prior journalism experience required — just an interest in the world around you. 


The High School Journalism Program is one of the longest-running programs at The Poynter Institute. Founded along with the Institute in 1975, its goal is to give young people the chance to learn about writing and the values and craft of journalism. We realize many students in this program won’t go on to pursue careers in journalism. We know, however, that all of them will learn through this program about the important role of journalism and freedom of the press in a democracy.

In fact, six participants from the 2018 High School Journalism Program later joined our MediaWise team as summer interns, helping fact-check information on Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat. 

What you’ll learn

  • Tips for making your writing clearer, crisper, cleaner
  • How to use simple digital tools to tell stories in new ways
  • Strategies for more effective, powerful visual storytelling
  • Social media for journalists
  • How to fact-check information online


Program hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This is a tentative schedule and is subject to change.

Monday, June 10
9:30 a.m. — Welcome & getting to know you 
10:30 a.m. — Break
10:45 a.m. — Writing tools  
Noon — Lunch 
1:00 p.m. — Storytelling 
2:30 p.m. — The personal essay

This evening — Get your “Photo Walk” release form signed.

Tuesday, June 11
 9:30 a.m. — Authentic voice
10:45 a.m. — Group photo in the great hall
11:00 a.m. — Editing your work
Noon — Lunch in the dining room and “speed dating” to meet your fellow campers
1:00 p.m. — Photojournalism & hands-on photo walk near Poynter

This evening — Work on your essays tonight; we’ll share drafts on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, June 12
9:30 a.m. — The big fake-out: who Is lying to you and why?
10:45 a.m. — Break
11:00 a.m. — Tough ethics calls
Noon — Lunch in the dining room
1:00 p.m. — Video storytelling 
2:30 p.m. — Essay coaching

This evening — Tell a story through photography or video; make revisions to your essay.

Thursday, June 13
9:30 a.m. — Cool tools
11:15 a.m. — Math for journalists
11:45 a.m. — Lunch in the dining room
12:30 p.m. — Team storytelling in St. Petersburg Photo Walk: Students will break into groups to engage in video, photo and text storytelling in downtown St. Petersburg under the supervision of multiple educators.

This evening — Complete your essays and team storytelling.

Friday, June 14
9:30 a.m. — Alternate story forms
11:00 a.m. — Lab time to work on ALTs
Noon — Lunch, traits of outstanding student publications with a panel of journalism advisers
1:00 p.m. — More than a hobby
1:45 p.m. — Sharing your work (storytelling and personal essays)
3:15 p.m. — Certificates and farewells

Who will benefit

Students who are in 8th through 12th grades who are interested in journalism, writing, photography or storytelling with video. This workshop is great for students who work in student media or are considering majoring in journalism, mass communications or integrated marketing communications.  Applicants do not need to live in the Tampa Bay area but need to make their own housing and transportation arrangements. Priority goes to local students. Class size is limited to 35 students.

Application process

The application asks you to write an essay, 50 to 100 words, telling us about your interest in this program and why you’d like to participate. This is the most important component of your application, so please spend some time on it. Tell us about your involvement (if any) in student media, your interest in journalism and storytelling and how you hope this workshop will help you.


Tuition for the week-long training is $350 per student and includes supplies, a workshop T-shirt and lunch each day. We’ll meet in Poynter’s comfortable, airy classrooms. You’ll want a digital camera to use (a smartphone is fine), and a tablet or laptop (if you have one).

Students applying for financial aid may request it in the online application as part of their “essay of interest.” Tell us whether you qualify for free or reduced school lunch and any special circumstances you want us to consider.


We’d love to hear from you. Email us at seminars@poynter.org.

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