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Grow Local: North Pitt students see a future for journalism

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Students take a tour of the production facility during a Grow Local tour at The Daily Reflector on Tuesday.


By Bobby Burns
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The future of journalism may be digital but some North Pitt High School students visiting The Daily Reflector on Tuesday said digital has its pitfalls and readers may always find some room for print.

Nine sophomores from Vanessa Iorizzo’s English 2 class spent several hours at the paper as part of Grow Local, a week-long initiative led by the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce to educate county youth about jobs and careers available in their own communities.

Students toured the Greenville facility and participated in discussions and exercises about the role of newspapers in today’s world. The group talked with staffers about how the internet has changed the business, and how it has remained the same.

“It helps provide information about public events and social events,” Richard Bullock, 15, said about the newspaper’s work in print and online. 

The Reflector publishes a daily community calendar of nonprofit events at no charge to community groups, and a weekend calendar of fun activities happening all around the Greenville area. Community members submit items for publication and the newspaper staff scours a variety a sources to be inclusive.

Additionally, customers can get the word out about their businesses and events by placing eye-catching ads, which the students learned about during time with advertising and creative services staffers.

Taboiest Jenkins, 16, said he learned about how ads were priced depending on their size, among other factors.

“If someone wants their business to be, like, popular, they would go to the paper and say, ‘I want my business to be in the paper so people will know about it,’” Jenkins said.

The Reflector is distributed to more than 13,000 subscribers daily, and those readers often share the paper with multiple family members or friends, accounting for hundreds of passalong reads. Thousands more read the Reflector and its stories online, either on reflector.com or when the stores are shared via social media sites.

Sherlyn Gutierrez-Espino, 15, said she learned about the process of producing a newspaper from the newsroom to the pressroom, reporting and writing about the news and “the importance of why we should read the newspaper and why it improves us.”

She said she she might even read it a bit more than she had before Tuesday’s visit. It is delivered to her home, she said, but she knows she can read it on her phone, too.

Kevin Flores-Ponce, 16, said he starts reading on the back page, where the comics usually are placed. He likes “Garfield” but reads them all, he said. Then he scans the headlines and reads what might catch his interest.

He said he likes to do the crossword puzzles, too, “when I don't find them too difficult. ... It helps ease my mind, relaxes me.”

Allen Savage, 15, was asked if he thought newspapers are going to be around 20 years from now.

“Honestly, yes, just because there are still people that are of young age that are still interested in reading a newspaper,” he said. “So I think those are real people that are going to keep the business going throughout the couple next generations. So I don't think it's going to go away anytime soon.”

Savage said that members of his family including his parents and siblings read the paper to “sort of get away from their phone or get away from just the internet in general, so that you did read something that has nothing to do with anything social media-wise, and that's your sort of getaway.”

Traymon Spruill, 16, disagreed with his classmate, “because of how far technology has come, like with the internet, Facebook and websites and stuff, there really isn't a use for paper ... because everybody has phones, computers, iPads and stuff like that.”

More and more online news sites are implementing technology that will ask people to pay for content they want to access online. Spruill said “that’s another story,” although even he might pay a buck to read an important story about his favorite basketball player, LeBron James.

Dannishell Taylor, 15, countered that technology is not always reliable.

“The connection is down or you don't have WiFi everywhere, but with the paper, you can take it anywhere,” she said.

The students also talked about times the Reflector had published something about one of them and how their parents clipped the article for a keepsake.

“Coach Knight has that in his office,” Taylor said, referring to a framed newspaper page in the office of girl’s basketball coach William Knight. “When the girls won the ring, he had it cut out.”

Diana Urias-Caraveo, 15, also figured that, more and more, people will be writing articles online.

“It could be bad because people could, like, plagiarize, or it could be a fake website or something like that,” she said.

On the other hand, a wide variety of news and information will be more accessible, she said.

Professional journalists at established news organizations, in contrast to some online content producers, work hard to include a variety of sources in order to be balanced and accurate in their reporting.

Accuracy is crucial, the students said, after a discussion about how the newspaper occasionally misspells a name.

Little mistakes erode the credibility of the facts in a report in the readers’ eyes, they said.

“They won't believe it. They won't believe the facts,” said Jesus Jimenez, 16.

The group is among more than 2,700 middle and high school students visiting employers across Pitt County this week as part of Grow Local.

Developed in conjunction with NC Students@Work Month, it is designed to create and unveil career interests, grow the talent pipeline, and connect local businesses to future employees.

More than 100 businesses and institutions are participating in the effort along with Pitt County Schools, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County and the Pitt County Education Foundation.

From tours of local businesses, conversations with business leaders and hands-on activities, students are getting a first-hand experience with a day in the life of an employee in a field relevant to curriculum they are studying in their class, Chamber President Kate Teel said.

More schools and employers will be joining the program to participate throughout the week.

Contact Bobby Burns at baburns@reflector.com and 252-329-9572.


Visit this story online for more images from the Grow Local event.