Over 500 students participated in Blair's first Media Diversity Day on Tuesday, where they listened to professionals talk about careers in the media.
About 540 students registered for the first session, from 12:45 to 1:45, and about 150 signed up for the second, from 2:00 to 3:00.
Media professionals held discussions on topics varying from newspapers to radio DJing and the internet, from reporting to public relations and technology.
Ernesto Blavijo, news director of the local station of the Spanish Television Network, and Mike Khatcheressian, senior producer-director of MHz Networks, talked about broadcast journalism to over a hundred students in the stiflingly hot small gym.
Curtis Cross of Mid-Atlantic DJ Corporation, Blair graduate and DJ for 16 years, talked about radio news and DJing in the auditorium.
Carlos Vega of Voice of America told students how his organization provides news outside of the United States through radio and the internet. Their goal is to present America and American policies to the rest of the world, especially places with limited news sources. "We get news to countries that only have one point of view [available]," said Vega.
Nate Hendrie discussed the effects of technology on the media. He gave students a survey and then used their answers to "favorite movie quote" as part of a hat-givaway contest. He said that he'll be hosting a "top secret" show on MHz Networks this fall.
Khalim Piankhi of 9 Eyewitness News talked about the public relations aspect of media organizations. He leads Channel 9's community outreach network and stresses the importance of keeping stories related to the audience. "My job is to keep us connected to our viewers," he said.
Dorothy Gillian of The Washington Post discussed newspapers as the basis of all news. She spoke enthusiastically about her career in journalism. "The magic of newspapers is, they not only give you an opportunity to learn about yourself, they give you an opportunity to learn about the world around you," she said. When she began her career, she felt intimidated as a black woman entering a field dominated by white men. Tying in with Media Diversity Day she talked about the obligation of newspapers to include the interests of all groups. "Newspapers need to have a wide variety of people," she said.
Kory Vargas-Caro and Tatyana Delgado, seniors in the Communication Arts Program (CAP), organized the event.
Delgado worked at Channel 9 last summer. She said that she became interested in a career in journalism and wanted to share her interest with others, especially minority students that don't think they have the talent. "I saw how important diversity is [in the media]," said Delgado.
Vargas-Caro agreed that the purpose of Media Diversity Day was to show students the opportunities available to them. "I want to expose students to all the things they can do," he said.
Delgado and Vargas-Caro work on La Comunidad, a TV program produced by Blair Network Communications (BNC) for Hispanic students. They point to the composition of Blair's media organizations: Silver Chips, the school newspaper, and Blair Network Communications, which produces the morning announcements program and a radio show. "The majority of them are CAPs and Magnets," said Delgado.
According to Delgado, Principal Phillip Gainous strongly supported their idea since they proposed it to him in October. Gainous's original plan was to cancel afternoon classes on the 16th so all students could participate in the activity. Some teachers complained that they would lose a day of important test preparation for the High School Assessment (HSA) and Advanced Placement (AP) tests, forcing administrators to scale the event down.
Although only one-sixth of the Blair population participated, Delgado and Vargas-Caro felt that the event was a huge success. Describing her feelings during the event, Delgado said, "I can't believe this is happening. I've been working on it since September and it finally came true."
CAP coordinator Dolores D'Angelo regretted that Media Diversity Day couldn't be as big as envisioned. She said that there only a few months to organize the event, and a full year of preparation would be necessary to plan an entire half-day activity. "This is a first step," she said, "and maybe in the future we'll be able to expand it."
Jeremy Hoffman. Jeremy Hoffman serves his second year on <i>Silver Chips Online</i> as the System Administrator. Following in the footsteps of Robert Day and Joe Howley, he'll be writing the code that makes the online paper work. Jeremy was born in D.C. and raised in Bethesda. His … More »