​​​Dr. Ed Simpson, assistant journalism professor, praised the 18 high school journalists who attended the Department of Journalism’s first Digital Discovery Workshop held on campus from June 28-30.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the high school journalists and hearing about their future plans and aspirations,” Simpson said. “They are, or should be, an inspiration to all of us. Their passion and energy is contagious.”

He said students attended seven sessions, produced a video story on each other, blogged about a CMU theatrical production, and reported and produced news/feature stories as part of a team during the workshop. Most of the attendees came from the Detroit area.

Simpson received mainly positive feedback from the students, although they thought the workshop should be longer.

“The main lesson I learned from the feedback is that we need to ramp up our curriculum and challenge them more, especially on the technology side,” he said.

Planning for next year is already under way, and Simpson said he is exploring the idea of adding some mobile apps and tablet production to the curriculum.

“Our students will rise to our expectations,” he said. “We should always expect more. In the case of the workshop, I think I underestimated what they wanted to learn.”

Planning for the workshop began in November 2012, and was conceived as a way to introduce key skills and concepts to top scholastic journalists in the region.

Simpson said two primary goals were set for the workshop.

“First, we sought to foster a deeper sense of the importance of journalism in an increasingly unmediated news environment,” he said. “Second, we wanted to introduce Central Michigan University’s accredited journalism program to prospective students. On both counts, I believe we were successful.”

Simpson said the workshop would not have happened without the help of PR Central, CMU’s student-run public relations agency, especially Integrative Public Relations major Gabriella Hoffman, a Saginaw junior who led the team instrumental in planning and marketing the event.

“I hope the students were inspired to continue into journalism,” Simpson said. “The next generation of journalists must learn from our mistakes and do it better.”

Two recent journalism graduates, along with several current students, served as mentors to the workshop attendees. Photojournalism major Katy Kildee, a junior from Flint, was excited to share her experiences at CMU with the high school journalists.

“They are inspired and creative, but also open to honing their skills and expanding their knowledge,” Kildee said. “They also have a lot of enthusiasm. Meeting those kids made it difficult to be pessimistic about the future of journalism.”