Gain Professional Journalism Experience at JCamp

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Jcamp Logo

Gain Professional Journalism Experience at JCamp

JCamp is a program for multicultural high school students who are aspiring journalists, put on by the AAJA, the Asian American Journalist Association. JCamp teaches students the necessary skills and training needed to become professional journalists within a six-day intensive camp.

JCamp covers all types of journalism, print, broadcast, and digital while covering topics in writing, photography, reporting, television broadcasting and online media. Not only do students learn how to become professional journalists, but classes, sessions and workshops are taught by prestigious journalists and media executives from top journalism companies.

JCamp provides high school students from freshman to junior year the opportunity to learn from experienced journalists, explore their interests through the various topics in journalism and gain experience while creating relationships. JCamp students walk away from the program with experience and having produced news packages that are published on the JCamp Facebook and the camps’ site, JCampLive. Check out past JCamp participant’s work and read more about past campers here.

Jcamp participants smiling for the camera.

JCamp aims to combat the issue of diversity in journalism, whether race, socioeconomics, religion, geography, sexual orientation, or identity. All high school students from freshman to junior year are eligible to apply to JCamp, the program is not only for Asian American students. When applying to JCamp there is no application fee, and if chosen as a participant, all costs such as airfare, campus housing and meals are covered. This aligns with JCamp’s goal of developing the next generation of journalists and being able to cover fees allows for no disparity.

Summer programs are a great way to network with actual professionals, build peer mentorships and build your resume. JCamp is a competitive summer program, each year JCamp receives hundreds of applications. Gaining experience in your potential career path can help when it comes to the admissions process and your choice in career. It’s a great idea to get started participating in summer programs even if you’re unsure of your career goals, plus its better for your Common Application regardless.

About JCamp

The goal of JCamp is to encourage the next generation of great journalists. JCamp brings students from all around the United States to be a part of a unique camp. JCamp trains prospective journalists about the voices and views in government, human interest, entertainment, recreation, science, medicine, and national and international news.

The program is made up of:

  • Interactive workshops/sessions
  • Hands-on training
  • Field Trips

The location of JCamp varies each year, 2020 was supposed to be in Washington, at Georgetown University. In 2019, JCamp took place at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta Georgia. JCamp is a way to gain professional experience as well as getting a taste of what living and working with other students can be like, it’s never too early to start thinking and preparing for the college admissions process, and what better way than a program like JCamp?

Examples of past JCamp publications

Each program allows students to publish their work here, not only does having work published before high school look incredible when it comes to extracurricular activities on the Common Application, but participants in the program are able to write hard-hitting stories. Past headlines include:

  • Bernie or Bust: Silent Screamers by Paul Cheung in 2016
  • Local Priest Defies Norms of the Catholic Church by Lorene Yue in 2014
  • In the Wake of ICE Raid Threats, Atlanta Activists Stand in Solidarity with Immigrants by Uma Menon in 2019
  • Detroit’s comeback gives the city new hope  by DeAundre Phelps in 2018

What is AAJA?

JCamp is put on by AAJA the Asian American Journalism Association which is a non-profit educational and professional organization that was founded in 1981. The AAJA is on the frontlines of change in the world of journalism with over 1,500 members in both the United States and in Asia.

AAJA was founded by Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists due to their want to support and develop a bigger push for Asian American and Pacific Islanders in joining the faces of the media. AAJA began with a group of Los Angeles journalists, and in 1985 other chapters began to form. Read more in-depth about the beginning of the AAJA here.

AAJA’s mission is:

  • To provide a means of association and support among Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists, and to advance AAPI journalists as news managers and media executives.
  • To provide encouragement, information, advice and scholarship assistance to AAPI students who aspire to professional journalism careers.
  • To provide to the AAPI community awareness of news media and an understanding of how to gain fair access.
  • To research and point out when news media organizations stray from accuracy and fairness in the coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and AAPI issues.

AAJA has 20 chapters in the U.S. and Asia, chapters are from San Francisco to Tokyo, and the AAJA is continuing to grow.  A significant number of AAJA’s members are students, which is in big part to AAJA’s mission as well as JCamp.

Members of the association gathered in a table while talking.

It’s incredibly important to have experience and a network while applying to college. Being a part of an organization such as AAJA can put you on the map when it comes to admissions. But, research does show that Asian Americans have a much more difficult time getting into schools that practice race-based admissions, read more about what that means here.

JCamp Curriculum

Students who apply to JCamp and are chosen have a strong interest in journalism, specifically in either:

  • Broadcasting
  • Newspaper
  • Magazine
  • Photojournalism
  • Online media.

JCamp holds sessions, workshops, field trips as well as journalism speakers. Past speakers have included Chuck Todd who hosts Meet the Press, 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitacker and Hoda Kotb who is a co-host of the Today Show on NBC.

The Core Principles of JCamp are:

  • Cross-Cultural Communication Skills – Cross-cultural communication skills stem from interacting with those who aren’t from the same environment, background, training, etc. Journalists must work to create an inclusive environment, which is accomplished through communication skills.
  • The Fundamentals of Leadership – The faculty and journalists in the program assist students with persuasive communication skills, teamwork, professionalism, project management, developing a personal identity and accountability, the fundamentals of leadership. (Being a leader is incredibly useful in all senses, and top universities seek students who demonstrate leadership, and understanding the fundamentals is just the beginning.)
  • The Importance of Diversity in the Newsroom and in Media Coverage – The goal of JCamp is to work to create a diverse journalism world, JCamp works to ensure there is an appreciation for all viewpoints. Another lesson is in why it’s important that media outlets represent and reflect all of the communities they report on.
  • Strong Ethics in Journalism Practice – JCamp teaches students about the ethics of journalism and ensuring every story is covered with sensitivity and high standards.
  • Networking & Career Mapping – No matter if the student ends up in journalism or not, JCamp teaches the basic skills needed in pursuing a profession, and the necessity of networking, relationship building and peer mentorship. (Career mapping is important as early as high school, just as JCamp suggests if you’re looking for a clear way to navigate the rest of your high school experience to its fullest potential, it’s a good idea to take a look at the Academic and ExtraCurricular Profile Evaluation)

Eligibility and Applying

JCamp is open to high school freshman, sophomore and junior applicants who are U.S. citizens, national or legal permanents of the U.S. or attend an international high school. You can apply no matter race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or political affiliation.

A mentor discussing while in a room full of participants

JCamp applications must be completed and submitted by the student applying. The required materials for applying are:

  1. The most recent high school transcript  (submitted as a PDF or JPG)
  2. A letter of recommendation (PDF or JPG) or a teacher, advisor or counsellor permission to provide their email to be contacted for a letter of recommendation
  3. Two 250 word essays answering both questions below:
    • If you had your own Netflix special or talk show on YouTube, who would you interview, what would you ask, and why?
    • Why do you think you should be selected for JCamp?
  4. You can also provide work samples and a video introducing yourself  on Youtube, both are encouraged, but not required to apply, and both should be submitted as links or PDFs in the application space provided

The deadline is in March, and no late applications are reviewed. It is important that recommendation letters and transcripts are acquired sooner rather than later. It’s important to remember that programs, admissions and more are becoming more and more competitive, which means not only do you have to stand out, but you have to go above and beyond the generic academic profile. The questions on the JCamp application allow for creativity and a great personal statement, which just like the college admissions personal statement can really set you apart. To get some ideas to visit the AdmissionSight resource for The Personal Statement.

Sponsors and Alumni

JCamp is sponsored by some of the biggest media, entertainment and journalism companies in the U.S, this includes CNN, Dow Jones Foundation, CBS News, Comcast NBC Universal, Bloomberg Philanthropies and more.

JCamp began in 200, and since then over 700 students have graduated from the program. Some of the alumni have entered the real world as professional journalists. Including:

  • Terrell Brown (JCamp attendee 2002): After JCamp, Terrel Brown was awarded a full scholarship for broadcasting excellence by the National Press Club. At age 22, Brown was named a CBS News correspondent making him the youngest news correspondent in that network’s history.
  • Jessica Carballo (JCamp attendee 2004): Jessica Carballo won various journalism awards and worked as an ABC production intern at WPLG-TV in Miami and graduated Yale University in 2010.
  • Arelis Hernandez (JCamp attendee 2004): During Areilis Hernandez’s senior year at the University Maryland she was named to the select list of the Top 100 Student Journalists in the country. Areilis is now a political reporter for The Washington Post and a JCamp co-director.

Read about more of JCamp’s alumni and their testimonials here.

Although JCamp isn’t happening this summer, they are allowing those who were accepted to accept for summer 2021, but there are various other AAJA programs, opportunities and internships. As well as, AdmissionSight outlines the top summer programs for high school students that are worth checking out. Also check out this blog post regarding how coronavirus’ is affecting other topics on high schoolers minds such as admissions, testing and more.

Alumni of Jcamp gathered for a picture.

AAJ is offering a remote internship for those enrolled in an undergraduate or a graduate program or recent graduate, this is a great opportunity for the summer, learn more here.

Other AAJA programs include a leadership program and mentorship programs:

  • The Executive Leadership Program works to create the next generation of journalists who can lead in future times and continue to build an accountable and diverse future for journalism. The Executive Leadership Program has been around for over 20 years and provides professional development to diverse, high-potential, ambitious, and community-minded professionals. Graduates of the program are given access to a large and incredible alumni network as well as learning opportunities year-round that are both in-person and online and include networking events, mentorship and more.
  • Mentor Match is a program where  AAJA pairs a mentee with a mentor based on the path of the mentor and mentee. This allows an important mentorship to be made for advice, networking, and more. Learn more about applying to be a mentee or mentor here.

AAJA lists an abundance of fellowships, internships, scholarships and grants on their page. There are internships for various types of interns, grade levels and professional interests. Some internships and scholarships listed include:

  • AAJA Sports Task Force-ESPN Summer Internship
  • NASA Journalism Internships
  • NBC News Summer Fellowships
  • ABC News/AAJA Alexa Valiente Summer Internship
  • Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship worth $2,000
  • Stanford Chen Internship Grant worth $2,000
  • Columbia Journalism School Student Fellowship worth $750
  • CIC/Anna Chennault Scholarship worth $5,000
  • Facebook Journalism Project Scholarship worth $10,000

AAJA’s mission is to provide a means of association and support among Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists and to advance AAPI journalists as news managers and media executives, and  AdmissionSight recognizes that Asian American students have a more difficult time getting into schools.

We have strategies to assist in working around racial barriers and discrimination, learn more about the strategies here, and if you’re interested in giving your application a better shot, schedule an initial consultation. 

JCamp is an incredible opportunity for 6 days of intensive journalism training while creating relationships and a network that will benefit your career and future. JCamp values communication skills, ethics, leadership, diversity, networking and so much more to ensure it’s graduates are going to be successful.

JCamp allows students to take their first steps in their journalism career, as well as to learn about the opportunities the AAJA provides. JCamp has some of the biggest journalism sponsors and support and provides hands-on experience that is hard to gain elsewhere. To ensure your application is ready to contact us for any assistance.




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