On Aug. 1, students participating in “The Bobby Hawthorne Experience” class at the MIPA workshop worked diligently on their new writing assignment right as Hawthorne himself finished his presentation on various types of good and bad newspaper leads.
“The main goal for this class is for them to go past the tedium of data and to tell a story so you’re not boring readers with this endless avalanche of data. You’re more concentrating on stories,” Hawthorne said. “At this point we’re saying, ‘Okay. The school just passed this policy…’ It’s probably not going to affect but five people in the school. Who are those five people? What’s their story? That’s what we want to talk about.”
The Bobby Hawthorne Experience is an intense writing class offered at the MIPA workshop that pushes students to bend the “laws” of journalism in order to tell the story that needs to be told. Hawthorne, a well-known journalist from Texas, encourages his students to break their common habits of “basic writing” and step out of boxes in order to captivate the reader. In just these first few days, Hawthorne’s students have written reports on other students in the class along with 300-word mock reports on given scenarios.
Jill Detwiler, Harlett High School, talked about how she learned many new journalistic skills in just one day. “As far as our newspaper goes, I’ve definitely learned what to and what not to put in it and how to write good leads,” she said.
The 300-word mock reports these students are working on are assignments that Hawthorne uses to show the students how to properly use their newly acquired techniques. The students have an option to choose between a photographer who used to be homeless, or a student who’s fourth out of 500 competitors in a world champion rock, paper, scissors competition. The students must accurately depict the story along with having to use all the quotes and stats they need.
Emma Baty, Grand Haven High School, chose the photographer who used to be homeless and spoke about her pervious writing assignments. “We’ve had to do reports on other students, this morning we worked on writing beats, then we had to do another 300-word story,” she said. “The class is interesting. I’m looking forward to more.” By Taylor Hale/Upstart Staff