ERIE, Pa. — For the latest on "College for Kids," the five-week summer youth program at Penn State Behrend, ace reporter Elliott Fensmire, age 12, provided insight.
“I like writing a lot, and I like taking pictures,” said Elliott, who spent a week learning the basics of the news business in the Behrend Tribune class, a new offering at this year's College for Kids. She wrote several stories for the newspaper, which also included student-created puzzles, cartoons and ads.
“I also wanted to see how it felt to document people and what they were doing,” she said.
Elliott doesn’t regularly read a newspaper. She prefers magazines, she said. But she took to the work, interviewing students in other College for Kids classes as they made "slime" and designed custom flip-flops.
Leah Hyatt went with her. She’s 11.
“I read the newspaper,” Leah said. “I like reading the articles. I also like looking at the ads.”
Another team took photos, using a camera borrowed from Lilley Library.
Josie Noyes, an English major at Penn State Harrisburg, designed the class. Her goal was to create a newspaper that the students could share with their families at the end of the week.
“I want them to know the basics, at least,” she said. “I am focusing on articles and how to write effectively.”
She talked about how to source a news story, how to write an effective headline and how to edit stories to make them easier to read. She talked a lot about the difference between factual stories and “clickbait” that is designed to generate traffic on social-media sites.
The students conducted interviews and wrote their own stories. They had to meet several deadlines in order for the newspaper to print on Friday.
“They came up with the ideas themselves,” Noyes said. “They drafted and formulated the articles on their own. They love the writing process.”
The young reporters also learned how to better evaluate and trust the content they consume, Noyes said. That includes social-media posts and videos on YouTube.
“We talked about story titles and how they sometimes get to be crazy,” Noyes said. “We were able to dissect that idea a little bit. Hopefully, it helps them filter out what sources they can and can’t trust.”