CJA associate board educates high-schoolers on journalism careers

To cap off an eventful month, the Chicago Journalists Association’s associate board participated in yet another journalism-related event – this time for high school journalists.

Associate board chairman Stephanie Choporis and fellow director Christina Oehler gave presentations on how to prepare for various journalism careers to roughly 60 students at the South Suburban Journalism Conference, which took place at Moraine Valley Community College Friday, Oct. 21.

CJA associate board director, Christina Oehler (left), encourages aspiring magazine writers to follow journalists on social media, read a variety of work and stay on top of the news. Photo credit: Stephanie Choporis

“I’m so happy that we had the opportunity to participate in this event,” Choporis said, mentioning another high school conference her board participated in earlier this year. “Since my directors are still learning and navigating the journalism world, they’re not far removed from any advice they have. And I think that makes them good resources.”

Approximately 250 total students from 14 schools in the south and southwest suburbs attended the conference, which featured sessions on news writing, photography, yearbook layout, advertising and more. The event has been in existence for 11 years and aims to educate students beyond the classroom as well as connect them with fellow, aspiring journalists.

“Our goal this year was to prepare students for the IHSA Journalism competition in the spring while at the same time help improve their yearbooks, newspapers, and media literacy,” wrote conference organizer and Bremen High School media instructor, Michael Lynch, in an email.

In her portion of the presentations, Choporis focused on technical suggestions for feature writing while Oehler discussed navigating the magazine industry. They also shared tips from CJA directors who were unable to attend, such as Ashley Wijangco, who encouraged live tweeting and note-taking during games for those interested in sports writing. Other members contributed ideas for social media, video and general journalism tracks.

In the past several weeks, the associate board has attended the LION Publishers Summit and hosted a successful networking event with award-winning journalists. One representative will also soon be heading to Social Media Week to learn about the latest social technologies.

“I also want to continue giving back to the journalism community, and I hope these types of high school conferences are just the tip of the iceberg.” Choporis said.

The associate board currently consists of 16 college students and recent graduates from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, DePaul University, Columbia College Chicago, Augustana College, Southern Illinois University and North Central College. Membership is free.

Students or recent graduates interested in joining should contact Choporis at stephanie@chicagocja.wpcomstaging.com for more information.