Don’t panic – this is just an exercise.
When you see a crowd of students and police responding to an emergency event on campus on April 12, don’t run off to call for help. This is just The Free Press’s helping the youth of Maine become name-taking, info-grubbing news hounds.
The Free Press will host a media training day in which students will be invited to practice building the media skills required in covering breaking news.
No experience is necessary. This will be a chance for students to learn new skills in an extremely hands-on way. One of the chief goals of the event is for students to have fun while they learn about what it takes to get out the news.
The event will be free and open to all students. USM, local high school and neighboring college students are encouraged to register.
Here’s how it will work: groups of the student journalists will gather in the “newsroom,” like on any other normal day, but that day, a call will come in. There will have been an emergency on campus. They will need to respond.
That’s how it starts. The students, working in groups, will have to cover the emergency to the best of their abilities. In the end, there will be a constructive critique in which our esteemed panel of judges will talk about each group’s work. The winning group will receive a prize, courtesy of The Free Press.
The event is inspired by a similar one that takes place every year at the at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in Georgia. It’s called the Management Seminar for College News Editors.
At that conference, nearly sixty college newspaper editors from across the U.S. responded to the staged emergency at the MSCNE training day. Working together, they covered the faux-news in less than two hours with multimedia and written coverage.
Kenneth Rosen, former editor of the Savannah College of Art and Design and current correspondent for USA Today College, described the media training day in his blog.
“It was a thrilling experience,” he said, “one I plan to replicate for training once back in Savannah, and one I implore all college news teams to do at least once a year.”
Volunteers are also encouraged to register for the event to help with preparations. Student actors (or non-actors) are welcomed to play crowds-people, victims and criminals.
Registration for the event will be available online at The Free Press’s website (above) and at USM student life website. You can also register at the Student Involvement and Activities Center in Portland or at The Free Press office at 92 Bedford St. in Portland.
Stay tuned to hear who the judges will be in upcoming weeks!