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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 4 years ago

Florida Film Academy partners with Times & Observer to start program for aspiring journalists

by: Catherine Kerr


WINTER GARDEN  When did you open your shop? What’s the most interesting thing you sell? What is a day like in your shoes?

If you are a Winter Garden business owner and kids toting cameras, notepads and press badges walk into your shop, be prepared to face their questions. These curious young reporters and photographers are members of Journalism X, a new program offered by Florida Film Academy in partnership with the West Orange Times & Observer.

“They’re capturing stories that matter to them, from a kid’s perspective,” said Stefanie Esquijarosa, vice president of operations at FFA. Everybody has a story to tell, and that’s what they’re trying to achieve.”

The class, which started Sept. 3, meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, and enrollment is always open. Students choose whether they want to focus on writing or photography. Each week, the students work together to create a human interest piece or story about a local business. They circle up before the interview to brainstorm about questions to ask and angles to take. 

Recently, the class went to Ms. Bee’s Gourmet Popcorn and Candy Store. Tatum Cempella and Menu Hamlett conducted a video interview with owner Belinda Wilson, while the photographers searched the store for interesting and artistic shots.

Cempella, 10, wants to be a writer when she grows up. 

“We started doing creative writing in first grade, and I really liked it,” she said. “(In Journalism X), we get to do creative writing and express our thoughts.”

In addition to supporting the writers, the photographers have creative assignments that focus on various topics, such as trees or chairs. They are also working on a long-term photo project called “Catarazzi.” Whenever they see a cat, they take its picture. 

“They’re brilliant photographers,” said Kay Hill, vice president of programming. 

The students also will be learning how to identify newsworthy topics and present content in an engaging way. Social media has changed the way that audiences digest news, and it’s important to be able to grab an online reader’s attention in the few seconds.

“That’s a really important skill that not only transcends what they’re doing in this industry, but beyond that,” Esquijarosa said.

Local media professionals will be attending Journalism X as guest teachers and interviewees.

Journalism X is open to children ages 7 to 17. To enroll, contact FFA at (407) 654-8400.

Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].

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