The New York Times Brings Its Student Journalism Institute Home

For Garrett Wright, it was all the people. A native of Detroit, Mr. Wright is accustomed to large cities. But when he arrived in Manhattan for the first time and walked through Times Square to the newsroom of The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, the enormousness of New York City hit him.

“I was excited because New York is someplace I’ve always wanted to go, especially because it’s so big,” said Mr. Wright, a senior at Hampton University. “It’s a great experience for me.”

Mr. Wright, 21, is one of 26 participants in the Institute, a two-week journalism “boot camp,”as Institute director Richard G. Jones calls it, for student members of the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Under the guidance of journalists from The New York Times, the students — working as reporters, editors, designers and visual journalists — produce articles, photos, videos, social media posts and news graphics for a website and print edition, which will be published before the Institute’s conclusion on June 5. Mr. Wright was not the only one who checked off a “first” with this trip. The Institute, now in its thirteenth year, is celebrating its own year of firsts.

It is the first year the Institute has been held in New York City as well as a the first year NABJ and NAHJ students have worked together in the same program. In previous iterations, NABJ students would participate in the program in even-numbered years and NAHJ students would participate in odd-numbered years.

Mr. Jones said administrators at The Times spent much of the past year designing a plan to bring the Institute to the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, a few doors away from The Times Building, where students could take advantage of all of the resources of The Times.

New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger (center) listens to a question from Kendall Trammell (second from left) during a luncheon with students from The New York Times Student Journalism Institute on May 23 in the newsroom building on Eighth Avenue. James Tensuan / NYT Institute

“These great students are able to be exposed to even more of the Times’s fine journalists,” Mr. Jones said. “It is often difficult for some of our most prominent journalists to fly to a remote location for an extended period. Now, we’re able to ask them to just take a short walk down the block.”

Among The Times journalists who have given talks to the students are critic-at-large Wesley Morris and “On the Street” photographer Bill Cunningham. The students have also heard from Kinsey Wilson, The Times’s editor for innovation and strategy, and had lunch with Dean Baquet, executive editor of The Times, and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher.

This year, the 14 NABJ and 12 NAHJ students taking part in the program represent 21 universities from across the country. The inclusion of members from both journalism organizations has enriched the learning experience, students said.

“It was important to see diversity in the streets,” said Mr. Wright, a print designer for the program. “But diversity in the classroom as well.”

Students perform original reporting during their time in New York and work in a makeshift newsroom at CUNY. They are mostly reporting from central Harlem and working alongside Times staffers who edit their work and teach them new skills to to help refine their journalistic techniques.

“Where can you find a Pulitzer Prize winner to just sit down with you?” asked Khaled Sayed, a student photographer with the program. “You can here. It’s wonderful.”

Mr. Sayed, who is originally from Egypt and will attend the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism in the fall, worked as a lawyer before realizing his passion was in photojournalism.

This year’s Institute may also reflect a newly collaborative spirit between NABJ and NAHJ. This August, the professional organizations will hold a joint convention in Washington, D.C. Many Institute participants said they hope to reunite there.

Maria Esquinca, a recent graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and a student reporter, described newfound friendships with her colleagues.

“It’s very important to have a group of people I can relate to and identify with,” said Ms. Esquinca, 22. “It makes me feel not so isolated. It’s very important that we are all here from similar backgrounds. Not all the same thing, but things that we can all identify with.”