Welcome to YAJI, The Arts Paper's Youth Arts Journalism Initiative
In its pilot semester, the mission of the Youth Arts Journalism Initiative (YAJI) was to use The Arts Paper to train 10-12 students from New Haven’s Cooperative Arts & Humanities High School (Co-Op) to independently research, report, draft, and publish articles about hyperlocal visual, performing, and culinary arts. In April, we began with a weeklong intensive professional development during New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) spring break.
Then we followed it with two months of mentoring meetings with Arts Paper editors Lucy Gellman and Stephen Urchick. As the point of the program was to train young freelancers, we treated students as contract employees, paying them a stipend for four articles over the eight weeks we were together. In June, the program culminated in a 1,200-2,000 word capstone project. It was then their choice to stay on as freelancers for The Arts Paper.
Cool, But What Does The Curriculum Look Like?
We're so glad you asked! In its current state, YAJI is aligned to satisfy the National Core Arts Standards, which have been adopted by the Connecticut State Board of Education.
But why, you may ask? We noticed that creative writing was getting the boot in some schools across the country and the state, and that didn't sit well with us. We wanted to draw a connection between the creative work many students do, and the critical skills it prepares them for as young journalists. YAJI zeroes in on critical analysis and engagement, ability to put artistic ideas in cultural context, and creation of original content. Our interpretation of an "article" is broad: students are allowed to produce comic strips, original music, video, or podcasts as their final capstone projects, if they are accompanied by a written summary.
On a day-to-day and week-to-week basis, what we were doing was always a little different. During our April weeklong intensive (April 16-20, intended to coincide with NHPS spring vacation), we spent each day with professionals in the field, studying everything from contract negotiations to how to handle a portable podcast mic. We criss-crossed the city with our cohort, holding sessions in theaters, museums, recording studios, community colleges, and industrial kitchens.
After the intensive, we met weekly with students during Co-Op's after school program, going over the basics of pitch meetings, writing, and editing. From April 24-June 5, students worked closely with The Arts Paper staff to pitch, draft, edit, and ultimately publish articles on a YAJI Blog, on the main site of artspaper.org, and in the July/August print issue of The Arts Paper.
Want to know more? You can see all of our curriculum, including a breakdown of the April intensive here.
Why Only Co-Op? New Haven Has A Lot Of Students Who Might Like This Program.
We agree. For this first pilot year, we wanted to see if the program was possible at all, and realized that working with one school was our best option for funding. As we began to apply for funding for FY 2018-19 (yes, already!) we are hoping to work with a larger cohort from more schools across the city, and the region.