Tannette Johnson Elie
Tannette Johnson-Elie

Dear Readers,

It is with great pleasure and pride that I present to you the 2018 edition of the Urban Voice, the online publication of Marquette University’s Urban Journalism Workshop.

This year’s Urban Voice represents the hard work and successful storytelling of eight talented young men and young women, who traded summer fun to embark on two weeks of intensive training in journalism and digital news gathering.

On Father’s Day, we welcomed high school students from Wisconsin and Illinois, with many of them coming to us from Milwaukee’s Messmer High School. I must admit that this was one of the most attentive and engaged group of students I’ve had in the three years I have been instructing UJW. They came to us focused and ready to dive into the world of journalism.

As their lead instructor, it was my job to help them learn the nuts and bolts of journalism, including news writing and reporting; interviewing; beat coverage; digital storytelling; ethics and Associated Press Style. I could not have done this workshop alone. For this reason, I am grateful to have had the guidance and assistance of UJW Director Sheena Carey and the support of Marquette’s wonderful faculty and staff.

Students also received instruction from noted experts from Marquette, including Tim Cigelske, director of social media; Photographer Dan Johnson; James Brust, director of the Wakerly Media Lab for Innovation & Creativity; and Dave Umhoefer, my former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel colleague and Pulitzer Prize Winner, who is director of the O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism.

After two days of intensive training, it was time to get down to business. Students were divided into reporting teams of two and set out across the city to explore what social justice looks like in Milwaukee and who’s at the forefront of making changes to address the pervasive inequities in the city.

Among topics covered by UJW students include immigration; race and culture; policing; urban agriculture; gender/LGBTQ issues; youth education and job training; and small business. Their assignments put them in the path of some of the most prominent leaders and newsmakers in Milwaukee; the kind of people that your average high school student might not normally meet.

While most of the stories that the students produced were assigned, some students took the initiative to come up with their own story ideas, which is one of the hallmarks of good journalism. In addition, all students spent countless hours writing, making multiple revisions to their stories, and conducting additional reporting and research.

However, it wasn’t all work and no play. Students also went bowling, visited a local park, frolicked along the lakefront and visited local attractions like Summerfest, weather permitting, that is. Due to an unusually rainy period, we had to cancel a few events like Jazz in the Park and attending a Brewers game, which would have meant getting soaked during a thunderstorm to take public transportation down to Miller Park, where the Milwaukee Brewers play.

Nevertheless, this group took it all in stride, preferring to stay focused on their assignments, instead of sulking about missing a few outings due to rain. Well, let me tell you that the quality of work that these young people produced will not disappoint.

Now, without further ado, it is my pleasure to present the 2018 edition of the Urban Voice.

Tannette Johnson-Elie