by Christine Eschenfelder
One of the reasons I am interested in research about journalism education is excellent students and graduates, young people like Miles Doran, who was the 2006 Florida Scholastic Press Association’s Student Journalist of the Year.
I am a second-year doctoral student at the University of Florida with a professional background in broadcast news. In my role as a teaching assistant, I am surrounded by a wonderful group of energetic young people full of energy, hope and promise.
I was immediately impressed with the talent displayed by many of the students.
A few really stood out, like Miles Doran.
Miles started working at CBS News in New York City right after graduation, which didn’t surprise any of his teachers or peers. As part of the UF broadcast news-reporting course, many of our students cover stories like local commission meetings or road construction projects and do great work. Miles went to Guantanamo Bay. He set up the story himself and took another student, Patrick Fleming, along as his videographer. They did a phenomenal piece on the guards at Guantanamo.
Miles, I would learn, got his start in journalism long before he became a student at UF. His broadcasting career began when he was in elementary school. As student at East Lake High School, Miles helped establish the school’s broadcast news program, Eagle Eye News.
Some other UF students have shared with me their experiences in high school broadcast programs in Florida that gave them the chance to learn writing, editing and performance. I was a bit jealous! Where were these programs when I was a teenager?
It made me think about the pipeline from high school to college journalism and broadcast programs. Many high school programs are giving students an exceptional foundation.
But what happens when classes like these start disappearing because of shrinking funds? And what of the dedicated teachers and advisers trying to keep these types of programs alive for students who show the interest, talent and dedication.
Several of my former co-workers in television news left the industry to teach broadcast classes in high schools. They have never been happier or more inspired. But often teachers don’t have the resources they desperately need.
I fear the Miles Dorans of the future won’t have the chance to start developing their passion for working in the media until they enter college. Will they be as enthusiastic about being in the media when they arrive at college if they haven’t had that energizing and motivating high school media experience?