John Tolley, June 30, 2017
For many, camp is an integral part of any summer experience and the Big Ten is no different. But the LiveBIG camping experience is more than just tents, bug juice and campfire songs; it brings together generations, challenges minds and even hits the high seas. Over the new few months, we'll bring you stories of how your Big Ten school spends its summer vacation.
Medill Cherubs – Northwestern University
Do you know a high schooler hungry for a scoop? Does he or she think Murrow, Thomas, Woodward and Bernstein belong in a hall of heroes? Does your teenage scribe devour the New York Times daily and refresh CNN.com on the hour?
While these examples may skew a bit toward the outlandishly obsessive, there is a camp for teenage newshounds. It's not a traditional camp, of course, but while tents may be lacking and campfires are in short supply, Northwestern University's Medill Cherubs program more than makes up for it in one-of-a-kind opportunities for budding journalists.
Founded in 1934, the program – formally known as the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute – enrolls up to 84 rising high school seniors in a five-week summer immersive program on the University's Evanston campus.
Daily courses, taught by a team of instructors made up of professional journalists, educators and Medill graduates, introduce students to a variety of aspects of journalism. The courses are bolstered by field trips to print and broadcast news rooms and speaker presentations from notable journalists, writers, media theorists and educators.
Hands-on learning is a vital part of the Cherubs curriculum. Students pen their own articles, work with photojournalists to develop their visual storytelling skills, hone television talents while reading news copy in on-location simulations, maintain weekly blogs, even work as a group to code their own websites.
Roger Boye, the program's director since 1985, says that emphasis on building the skills crucial to a career in journalism is what sets Medill Cherubs apart.
"There are about 50 U.S. colleges and universities that offer summer programs for high school journalists," Boye said to The Daily Northwestern. "Almost all of them focus on how to improve your high school newspaper. We try to focus on journalism as it's done as a profession."
That focus on the craft appears to have paid off, as the Cherubs alumni count among their ranks a number of noted journalists and broadcasters, including columnist, essayist and critic Frank Rich, Al Jazeera America anchor Joie Chen, and Chicago Tribune art and jazz critic Howard Reich.
"For me, the cherub program was kind of opening the door to the world of journalism and work and ideas," Reich said. "Up until I was in the cherub program, journalism was something I did in my high school, for my high school newspaper so it was very much a student activity. For me, the cherub program was a bridge to professionalism."