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Photos by Jonathan Olivares and Laura Gonzalez.

This summer, fourteen Boyle Heights teens had a first look at what it takes to be a reporter in their community.

The students, who attend one of five area high schools, including Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet, Theodore Roosevelt, Alliance Media Arts Charter, Felicitas y Gonzalo Mendez and Oscar de la Hoya Animo Charter participated in two intensive journalism programs for Boyle Heights Beat.

Held at the historic General Hospital’s Wellness Center with support from Las Fotos Project, students learned about the basics of journalism, interviewing, writing, reporting and photography through a series of exercises and field trips.

Youth reporters shared a few anecdotes on their enriching experience as they begin their reporting for the upcoming issue.

Samantha Olmos, 11th grade, Felicitas y Gonzalo Mendez High School
The first day I arrived at the old General Hospital building, also known as the Wellness Center, I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew that I was determined to do what I had to get done. I got to meet my fellow reporters and I knew that I would be working with a good group of people.

In the summer boot camp I learned lots of valuable information that would help me in the long run. In the future, I plan to study and become a journalist. I want to give my all to make these moments beneficial. What stood out to me the most was learning how to interview people. I challenged myself to talk to different people and by interviewing as a youth reporter. I hope to build confidence and self-esteem.

Alinne Gonzalez, 12th grade, Bravo Medical Magnet High School
I learned a lot of things ranging from the key components of a story like the lead to the importance and impact of a “simple” photograph. A story is not a story if it does not have an attention grabber. If anything, the audience is what makes a story significant.

I really enjoyed interviewing because, although it wasn’t going to be published, it gave us a sense and idea of how it will be. I think it was great that we had a little bit of practice that way I’ll be a bit more confident when it actually affects my story.”

Maria Bonilla, 11th grade, Oscar de la Hoya Animo Charter High School
In the photography boot camp I learned that the photography used in newspapers is different than the type I am used to taking. They both tell a story but the photography for newspapers do not need to be pretty (in other words, flowered up or made to seem better but tells the truth straight out).

Valeria Flores, 12th grade, Roosevelt High School
The journalism boot camp was a great experience. The whole week I learned new things to enhance my journalism skills. Not only did I get new point of views, but I also made new friends. At first I was scared of learning new techniques but as soon as I got comfortable I started to like the environment.
During the journalism week I learned about different type of ledes. I thought that a lede was just a lede; I didn’t know the type of names the ledes. I also learned about a “pitch” and what is found within a pitch.

Jennifer Lopez, 12th grade, Bravo Medical Magnet High School
Attending my first journalism boot camps this summer was an amazing experience. I learned many new things that I know will help me such as the many elements to a story and the importance of catching a reader’s attention with a lede. However, there are various types of ledes depending on how you want to catch the reader’s attention. A story is not like an essay, but is divided up into many small parts to ensure content and length.

There were some pictures I took on our photography day that I liked very much, but there were also many others that weren’t that great. I learned that there are many ways to be original by using the rule of thirds. Not all pictures should be centered, they should stand out.

Kimberly Parada, 12th grade, Bravo Medical Magnet High School
The summer photography boot camp was an educational and informative experience. I can say I know feel truly comfortable with a camera. One thing that was very important was learning about aperture. Trying to get good lighting in a photo is very important. Although I did not attend both boot camps, I did expand my knowledge in terms of photography.

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