Summer camp teaches multimedia journalism to high schoolers

Summer camp teaches multimedia journalism to high schoolers

PHOTO: Innovation J-Camp students Karina Rovey, left, and Caryn Tramel take a photo Tuesday, July 10, as part of a “photo bingo” assignment inside the Walker Library at MTSU. This year’s journalism camp for high school students ran July 9-13. (MTSU photo by KeWana McCallum)




Like many of her peers, Karina Rovey, a 17-year-old student at Page High School in Franklin, isn’t quite sure what she wants to be when she’s older, but says that last week’s Innovation J-Camp at Middle Tennessee State University helped bring things into focus.

As she snapped pictures in the Center for Innovation in Media during the week-long camp, she noted how the program can help campers “figure out what you want to do in college.”

Wrapping up Friday, July 13, the five-day workshop targeted students who have a passion for creating stories using mobile, social, digital and video platforms.

“(I) learned a lot of things, like (how to) use a (stick) mic and how to just operate a camera,” said Central Magnet High School student Moyin Onafowokan, a 14-year-old Rutherford County resident.

Based at the Center for Innovation in Media and in partnership with the College of Media and Entertainment, the camp was again directed by center director Val Hoeppner.

“I came in knowing that I wanted to do a high school camp because I wanted to just get more young people involved in journalism,” said Hoeppner, who also serves as  executive director of WMOT Roots Radio 89.5, the university’s 100,000-watt professional radio station housed inside the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building.

innovation j-camp
Innovation J-Camp student Jayden Hubbard edits his video inside the Center for Innovation in Media at MTSU. This year’s journalism camp for high school students ran July 9-13. (MTSU photo by Jimmy Hart)

Campers learned about news basics and new media platforms each day, then tackled hands-on assignments in the field with camp instructors. At week’s end, campers posted videos, photos and written stories online to showcase their multimedia projects.

Hoeppner’s background includes work in digital, mobile and multiplatform journalism for more than 15 years and she’s also an MTSU instructor. The camp allows the university to expose the motivated campers to MTSU facilities and programs just as they’re determining where to begin their higher education journeys.

“We wanted to recruit new students to the College of Media and Entertainment,” Hoeppner said about the added benefits of hosting the camp on campus. “We’ve had at least one, if not two or three students, that next fall become students here.”

Some students even come back to the camp a second year to gain more knowledge and experience.

“One of our best writers on Sidelines is Eric Goodwin; he was in my very first J-Camp,” said Hoeppner, referring to MTSU’s student-run news website. The Center for Innovation in Media combines the newsrooms for Sidelines; WMTS-FM, the student radio station; Match Records, the student record label; and MT10 News, the student-operated cable television station.

For the camp, Hoeppner also has a partnership with Canon, who provides camera equipment for campers to allow a better hands-on learning experience with current technology. Along with these tools, Hoeppner provides scholarships for some students.

“I wanted to make J-Camp as diverse as possible, so I offer three diversity scholarships every year,” she said.

Caryn Tramel, now an MTSU sophomore majoring in video and film, participated in the program’s inaugural year and is now a program mentor, helping out with the different groups throughout the week.

“We’re not pushing them to do anything but kind of like guiding them, and some of them already have these skills, so it’s cool to see them throughout the week get more confident in their skills,” Tramel said.

The Innovation J-Camp will be held again next year during the second full week of July. For more information or to register, visit

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