According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “boot camp” refers to “a military training camp for new recruits generally characterized by very harsh discipline.”
MacEwan University played with this idea this summer when they hosted a group of 12 high school students at their TV studio as part of an initiative to encourage those of underrepresented groups to consider the media industry as a career path.
This bootcamp was meant to serve two distinct goals, as Department Chair of Communications, Rey Rosales explains. “One (goal) was that we hoped that the high school students end up being part of our program. A second goal was we wanted to start creating a pipeline towards representation.”
Rosales also touched on the fact that, although Edmonton is a very diverse city, this diversity is not as well reflected in the media industry. “We’re changing at a rapid pace, and we want to make sure that we provide opportunities for our newcomers and members of different minority groups to have that kind of a chance to be able to work in the media industry.”
The bootcamp itself was split into three days. Day one served as the springboard, with a panel consisting of Tanara McLean and Liam Harrap who helped give the students insight into the daily life of a journalist. The students also had the opportunity to experiment with the entire TV studio, from learning how to mic up an interviewee, the functioning of the cameras, how to work the control room, as well as what the podcast room had to offer.
Day two consisted of a tour of both the CBC Edmonton and Global Edmonton studios and gave the students an opportunity to put what they had learned on day one into practice. Students each got an opportunity to create their own story pitch idea and share it through both an on-camera and podcast piece.
The third and final day was a celebration of the videos and podcasts the students had created on day two. They all also received a certificate of completion.
For Sheena Rossiter, MacEwan Associate Professor and Head of Media Production, the entire bootcamp felt like a success. “They left smiling, so I would say that it (the bootcamp) was well received and that they really enjoyed it.” According to Rosales, the students left an overwhelming amount of positive feedback about the bootcamp, however, he did point out that there are still some things that could be improved. “This was a pilot project and was our first go, so there are certain areas that we can work on in terms of room for improvement… like instead of a full day tour maybe just do all the tours in the morning and then they can come back and do more hands-on work.”
Rossiter explained that it was an excellent experience. “It was just really hopeful to see the next generation of journalists and media professionals, who want to come into the industry.”
Due to the fact that this was only a pilot, Rosales explains that they only targeted certain schools. “We connected with some school counselors, and they recommended some names. We also got a few participants via our social media promotional campaign, so we got a number of applicants there.” Rosales hopes that they will be able to expand the number of participants in the future through early social media promotion as well by reaching out to all high schools in the Edmonton area.
The faculty at MacEwan hopes to continue this boot camp in the years to come. As Rosales puts it, “We believe in equity and inclusion. I certainly believe that that concept is key to promoting a harmonious society, so we want everyone to have a chance to be able to participate, especially in the field of media and journalism.” Hopefully this bootcamp will help the field of journalism and media become more inclusive and allow for more stories to be told.