Paging Aaron Sorkin …

The socially conscious, sometimes cynical screenwriter behind such creations as “The West Wing,” “The Social Network,” and, most recently, the new HBO drama “The Newsroom,” might be heartened to hear that — at a time when most teens’ lives are seemingly dominated by social media — the iconic high school newspaper is alive and well. This is especially true at William Mason High School in Mason, Ohio, which recently sent 19 students to the Indiana University High School Journalism Institute (HSJI).

Samantha Weaver, a high school senior from Mason, Ohio, is participating in the IU High School Journalism Institute.

For 66 years, high school students have come to HSJI, which is sponsored by the School of Journalism, to participate in workshops and learn the tools of the journalist’s trade, as well as to get a glimpse of what life is like on a Big Ten university campus.

Samantha Weaver, a William Mason High School senior, is enrolled in her third year at HSJI. “When I started coming, I liked the basic reporting class, but now I am taking feature writing classes and learning more about different ways to write,” she says with a level of energy and enthusiasm that makes you momentarily forget about the commercial and other challenges facing today’s newsrooms.

While at HSJI, located in historic Ernie Pyle Hall in Bloomington, Weaver and her fellow aspiring reporters take part in intensive, five-day workshops, taught by a host of veteran journalists and journalism advisors from Indiana and around the nation. Within those workshops, they examine the role of the media, analyze their own and other student publications, and develop the skills needed to enhance those publications.

They also write, report and blog about events and issues as part of their very own online newsroom gallery. Recent HSJI stories have featured a discussion about everything from memes, healthy food options, vinyl records and vintage clothing to high school students’ fears about facing newfound freedoms once they go to college.

Seeing these young, wide-eyed, want-to-be Woodwards and Bernsteins, with their pens, notebooks and cameras at the ready, are an inspiring sight, even for those of us skeptics who share a somewhat Sorkian view of today’s news.

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