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Journalism fundamentals set the foundation

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Uma Rajan works on an article in Fisk Hall. Photo by Karina Aronson

When Uma Rajan walked into her room on the first day at the Medill cherubs program, she saw her roommate pulling out an Associated Press Stylebook. Rajan had no idea what the book was, or why her roommate seemed to have memorized it front to back.

Rajan of Haworth, New Jersey, said she was “a little concerned” about not having any formal journalism experience, coming from a high school where her newspaper was a club, not a class.

But Rajan soon learned she was not alone, and found that cherubs benefited students with varying levels of journalism education.

The first week at cherubs is dedicated to the basics of journalism, though the classes are anything but basic. The interactive lessons cover lede writing, quotations, headlines and AP style.

Sabrina Thaler of Baltimore attends a school without a newspaper and said the introductory classes helped prepare her for the rest of cherubs.

“We’re all taught to start from the basics, and I think in that way you really feel like you’re on an equal playing field here,” she said.

The introductory classes are helpful to students with no formal journalism experience, but cherubs who have taken journalism classes before also found them valuable.

Even though Ingrid Smith has participated in journalism classes at her school, she said the activities at cherubs allowed her to “dive deeper and hear discussion” about the fundamentals.

“The All Day Story was definitely important for me,” said Smith, of Austin, Texas. “You really have to be thrown into it, and it was such an immersive experience.”

Thaler agreed that introductory activities like the All Day Story and rotating rewrites helped cherubs develop foundational journalism skills.

“Cherubs is formulated so that you can really get something out of it no matter your background,” she said.

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