August 29, 2014  

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High School Students Participate in Freedom Summer Workshop

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Courtney Ingle (left), assistant manager of WUSM radio at Southern Miss, helps Deja Harris, a participant in the Remembering “Freedom Summer” Multimedia High School Journalism Workshop, write copy for a radio broadcast during the workshop. Photo by Emalie Cormier)

Sixteen high school students from across Mississippi spent the week of June 15-20 at The University of Southern Mississippi learning how to be journalists as part of the Remembering “Freedom Summer” Multimedia High School Journalism Workshop.

The School of Mass Communication and Journalism hosted the workshop in conjunction with the Freedom Summer 1964 50th Anniversary Conference, which takes place June 19-21 on the Hattiesburg campus. Freedom Summer refers to a period in 1964 when hundreds of volunteers came to Mississippi to launch a massive voter registration drive for African Americans, who faced obstacles from registering to vote at the time.

“We scheduled the workshop to coincide with the conference, so participants could learn to be journalists, while absorbing the rich history of this period in the civil rights movement,” said Gina Chen, assistant professor and workshop director. “This is a pivotal part of the history of Mississippi and the nation. It provides a great opportunity to teach the young journalists what it is like to cover a story of national significance.”

Students took photographs, interviewed subjects, produced news packages, created radio stories and blogged about the conference and other topics.

“I liked the experience we got, the people, atmosphere, and by the end of the week, I know we will be really close,” said Jessica Swanson, 16, of Ocean Springs.

Not sure what to expect from the experience, students created their own assumptions of what they would possibly encounter. “I expected hard work, and I most definitely got it,” said Lauryn Smith, 15, of Meridian. “It was nice to work with different kinds of people.”

To learn more about the School of Mass Communication and Journalism at Southern Miss, call 601.266.4258 or visit: http://www.usm.edu/school-of-journalism-and-media-studies