NEW ORLEANS --
Journalism is a challenging profession that requires a level of technical
polish, which can take years to attain. An early start in those technical
aspects can separate the good journalists from the great ones. Alongside
academe and industry professionals, the United States Marine Corps helped a
group of New Orleans youth achieve that early start June 17-21 in
conjunction with the National Association of Black Journalists annual
convention June 20-24.
This was the first year the Marines had an official partnership with the
NABJ, and they were asked to come to the convention in New Orleans a few
days early to work with staff from Xavier University and the NABJ at the
NABJ High School Journalism Lab, or JShop, for high school students.
The JShop provided an opportunity for the mostly local high school students
to participate in a hands-on journalism workshop to develop their reporting
skills and have their work showcased at the annual convention and career
fair. Major Carl Redding Jr., Capt. Kenneth Kunze and Master Sgt.
Christopher Cox, all Public Affairs Marines, worked with journalism
professors and active journalists from around the nation to help guide the
group of 20 students through the basics of journalism.
"It was an honor and privilege to work with these aspiring young
journalists," said Kunze. "With amazing NABJ media professionals showing
these kids everything there is to know about journalism, how can we not
expect them to be excited about the field? JSHOP is an amazing program that
Public Affairs Marines are lucky to be a part of."
Reginald Wayne Ragland, a co-director of the JShop, retired Army lieutenant
colonel and Defense Information School graduate, was thrilled the Marines
were able to attend as mentors.
"The Marines were essential to providing a mentor-rich environment -
especially because they are DINFOS trained media professionals, Ragland
said. "They were able to step right in and provide the exact same level of
journalistic expertise that I expect of working civilian journalists."
JShop also provided the Marines with an opportunity to highlight the role
journalism and public affairs plays in the Marine Corps and gave them a
chance to teach the students about the Marine Corps leadership traits and
The NABJ High School Journalism Lab was established in 1976 and until
recently, was sponsored by a local chapter of the NABJ and was held
independently of the national convention. In the last three years, the
workshop evolved into the "JShop" and moved to the national level, occurring
in the same city as the annual NABJ convention and drawing stronger support.
Aaron Ladd, who will be a junior at Parkview High School in the Fall, came
away from JShop with more than he was expecting.
"Coming into the workshop, I felt as if I knew everything there was to know
about journalism," said Ladd. "I didn't know that I had barely scratched the
surface of what a journalism career had to offer. The workshop was great and
I learned a lot."
The students for the 2012 JShop were recruited by Xavier University staff
and came to the program with differing levels of journalism experience.
Mia Williams, a recent graduate from Ursuline High School, discovered
journalism is more than a fancy way to present information.
"I learned that what I say matters just as much as how I say it," Williams
said. "I can bring different issues to light based on what I turn my focus
The workshop culminated with a luncheon attended by parents of the students.
At the luncheon, the products the JShop students produced were presented.
Williams was recognized by the Marine mentors during the luncheon for
showcasing many of the leadership qualities that are hallmarks of Marine
Corps leadership traits and principles over the course of the workshop, and
was presented the Excellence in Leadership award by Col. Thomas V. Johnson.
"I was surprised when I received the Excellence in Leadership award from the
Marines," Williams said. "I believe all of the students showed leadership
skills, but I am thankful that the Marine Corps chose me as the recipient."
In addition to the JShop, the Marines ran two physical training sessions for
NABJ members and set up a booth in the convention center, which gave them a
chance to educate the members of the organization about the opportunities
the Marine Corps can provide both inside and outside the Corps - including
the Fredrick C. Branch scholarships, Diamond Flight Football Camp
scholarships, Leadership Workshops, Educators Workshops, and careers as