Journalism major Claire Geary is a rising junior whose long history with the High School Journalism Workshop in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism led to her role as a co-leader in the J-Crew, a group of students who assist with the planning and facilitation of the workshop. Below, Geary discusses her experience and shares some behind-the-scenes details about the workshop over the years.
Q: Was this your first year at the workshop?
A: My first year with the workshop was in the summer of 2017 when I was an attendee. I met Bryan Kurp that year because we attended together. From there I participated again in 2018 before my freshman year, and in 2019 I was a J-Crew leader for the sports track. Since then I have stepped into the role as the assistant to the director underneath (co-directors) Tim (Sharp) and Victoria (LaPoe).
Q: Describe your responsibilities leading up to and during the workshop.
A: Originally when we started out, Tim and Victoria gave us (Bryan and me) the okay to create a schedule to see what we came up with. From creating the schedule, I then began to create a brand for the workshop so it would stand out from others across the country. With the help of Dylan Theisen’s creativity and skills, we created a brand and started marketing Virtual HSJW for social media. I coordinated my J-Crew leaders and made sure they were still onboard regardless of whether we went virtual, and communicated with the professionals as well. Tim created a master shared folder to share with professionals and J-Crew, which I managed and controlled.
When videos were placed, Bryan and I would edit them with the branding, transcribe them, then upload and schedule them onto YouTube and social media platforms for the campaign. I held an interview with Jimmy Burrow (former OHIO assistant football coach and father of Joe) as an example for students before the sports track session with him. Victoria and I placed students in their designated tracks then sent those lists with points of contact to our J-Crew. Bryan and I then coordinated the change from Microsoft Teams to Zoom, and made sure all links and sessions were created and ready for the next day. During the workshop, I moderated panels for the J-Crew Q&A session, the Faculty Q&A session, and the Student Round Robin. I also troubleshooted tech issues with the Zoom calls as needed. The list goes on, but it was all worth the preparation.
Q: What was the best part?
A: The best part was watching it all happen. The videos would post and go live on their scheduled times, along with the Tweets and Facebook posts to promote them. Clicking into sessions and seeing students engaged and taking notes during their tracks, that was awesome too. I loved seeing students ask questions about campus life, the diversity panel, and what it’s like being a student at Scripps. It was all so neat watching the gears turn in perfect harmony.
Q: What was it like to do this job virtually?
A: It was an experience I’ll never forget. Working remotely makes you feel an even greater responsibility to create a great product when presenting something new. That made things fun and challenging during the planning, which in turn made it a success.
Q: How did you collaborate with your fellow J-Crew members?
A: Luckily, my fellow J-Crew members were rockstars. We originally created a group chat for the workshop, which helped with communication from everyone. It’s also a perk when your J-Crew is also your friend group, and everyone can count on each other. It felt like a team effort even though we weren’t altogether.
Q: Did you find ways to connect with the attendees despite the virtual format?
A: Yes! This was one of my biggest points when planning this workshop. When I attended, the conversations with other participants and J-Crew leaders are what made me feel like I belonged at OU. I wanted to replicate that as close as possible given the current circumstances. Saying that, I strategically placed our J-Crew Q&A session first before any of the panels because I wanted the students to get to know the J-Crew besides the emails they were receiving. All of the J-Crew made GroupMe’s with the kids in their tracks to encourage conversation and questions, essentially a space to feel comfortable. And once it was all said and done, we encouraged following each other on social media, whether that be their publications or personal pages, and dropping emails for students to contact the J-Crew.