Redefining Storytelling for a Digital Age: Multi-Cultural Journalism Workshop

Wednesday, April 14 2010

Applications Due May 1

Written by Donna Emert

MOSCOW, Idaho – In a world where just about everybody can communicate instantly and globally – by blogging, tweeting, texting and skyping – how is journalism defined? And what are the skills storytellers need now to be effective communicators in a global conversation?

“At one time, everyone who was considered a communicator was a journalist,” said Rebecca Tallent, University of Idaho assistant professor of journalism. “Today we tweet, blog, Skype and have our own Web sites to get information out. I really believe that with digital technology, we have leveled the playing field, and we want to show students from diverse backgrounds that they can do this.”

To meet the need for ethnically and culturally diverse journalists and communicators, and to help train teachers to more effectively nurture students not of their own culture, Tallent has organized a week-long Multi-Cultural High School Journalism Workshop for diverse students and their teachers. The focus of the June 18-25 workshop is Storytelling in the Digital Age. The workshop is co-sponsored by the University of Idaho and the Native American Journalists Association.

Applications are due Saturday, May 1.

For participating students, the goal is to hone more effective analytical and communication skills. Although the media keeps changing, the essential machinery of delivering a coherent message remains the same: “We still look for people who know how to think critically and who can string a sentence together,” Tallent said.

Student participants will write newspaper articles, produce radio news and conduct interviews for TV news. Their work will be uploaded to an Internet site.

Teacher workshops introduce new approaches and methodologies for teaching journalism skills to students from cultures different than the teacher’s own, approaches that acknowledge and work within culturally dictated learning, listening and communication styles.

Having an ethnically diverse lens through which to view the news is essential to reporting the whole truth, Tallent said. “If you are Native American, Latino, Arab American, a member of the Russian community or other ethnicity, there are cultural issues that you might know about first hand, that somebody else doesn’t,” Tallent said. “That puts you in a better position to write about your own community.

“As Americans in the 21st century, we need to know what’s going on in our communities; they are worlds within worlds within worlds. To say Spokane, for example, is a white middle-class American city is inaccurate. Within Spokane there is a vibrant Hmong community, Russian community, Korean community and others.

“Having diverse representation in our communicators is not so much an obligation as it is something that benefits us all as human beings,” Tallent said. “It benefits us to learn about and to acknowledge the cultural richness of our communities.”

Applications forms for the Multi-Cultural High School Journalism Workshop are available at Interested teachers or students should contact Tallent at or (208) 885-8872.

Successful applicants to the University of Idaho workshop will have their tuition, room and board covered as part of funding provided for the workshop. Students and teachers must provide their own transportation to and from Moscow.
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About the University of Idaho

Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit