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Heights Starts Educational Series

10/18/12
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Bob Woodruff spoke on campus last month as part of The Heights New Journalist Program, open to the University community as well as the newspaper staff. (Photo courtesy of The Heights)

By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: Oct. 18, 2012

The Heights, Boston College’s independent undergraduate newspaper, recently hosted an educational speaking series intended to inform and inspire young journalists. The series, known as the New Journalist Program (NJP), had wide appeal and was open to anyone in the University community interested in journalism. 

The New Journalist Program included a lecture last month by ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff — who spoke at BC’s Commencement last May — and a panel discussion with retired Boston Globe Senior Metro Editor Steve Kurkjian, a faculty member in the Woods College of Advancing Studies, former Globe reporter Maureen Dezell ’75 — now a senior editor in the Office of Marketing Communications — and current Globe staffer Chris Gasper. Heights Editor-in-Chief Taylour Kumpf ’13 and Managing Editor Lindsay Grossman ’14 were pleased with the turnout and the atmosphere at both events.

“It was wonderful to hear Bob talk about his personal life and how it has connected with his professional life,” said Grossman, a history major from Dallas, who organized the program. “Maureen, Chris and Steve — who all represent different eras of journalism — were interacting with each other and really seemed to have fun.”

The series was piloted two years ago and, after a hiatus last year was reintroduced this semester as a professional development resource for the newspaper staff. Because the events also had potential interest for a wider audience, say Kumpf and Grossman, they were opened to the public.

Kumpf and Grossman say NJP is a perfect supplement for The Heights’ Freshman Leadership Initiative Program (FLIP), an orientation and mentoring program to help acclimate its freshmen staff members to the world of college journalism.

“FLIP — where current freshmen are paired with current Heights editors — is a very important part of working for The Heights,” says Kumpf, a Columbus, Neb., native majoring in English. “The New Journalist Program is an important addition to the education we try to provide through FLIP, and the participants are strongly encouraged to attend these events as their initial foray into the journalism world.

Adds Grossman, “We thought bringing in guest speakers would be useful not just for freshmen, but for us all as aspiring journalists — a way we can all learn together. We also felt that the Bob Woodruff talk and the panel discussion would touch on issues of concern to others in the BC community, so why not make these events open?”

Kumpf — who moderated the panel discussion — says the series has provided valuable insights into the “nitty-gritty” of journalism for her and her colleagues. “Bob Woodruff told us that ‘If you love it, just do it,’ and not to have a fear of jumping into the business.”

At a time when the death knell for traditional journalism is often heard, Kumpf says she has found some reassurance listening to the guest speakers.

“I think we, as journalists, will land on our feet despite all the problems the industry is experiencing. Ultimately, someone will still have to go out there and report on the important stories, and that’s why there will always be a role for journalists.”