Category Archives: Staff Editorials

Miles Apart, Connected Forever


After five weeks of endless questions with guest speakers, chats about Olivia Rodrigo over Slack, and double-checking if your mic was muted on Zoom, the 2021 cohort of the Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP) completed its second virtual summer. Asking questions by day, and laughing together by night, PSJP students not only broadened their knowledge of journalism, but also created life-long connections in a newfound, online family.

Using digital platforms had its inevitable challenges: internet connectivity issues, navigating time zones, and Zoom fatigue. Many students also juggled family commitments, jobs, internships, and summer classes. Throughout it all, PSJP students flourished, effectively balancing a multitude of tasks.

We were fearless when questioning politicians in virtual press conferences. Students asked hard-hitting questions on topics ranging from immigration to anti-racist education that stunned speakers. We engaged with Princeton professors through
interactive discussions and attended workshops that explored various forms of journalism, from covering food to conspiracy theories. No matter the unpredictable adventure that awaited every week, each Zoom call was a learning experience for both the speaker and student. After each session, students would leave with a new-found understanding of journalism.

As a collective, we learned that journalism is more than just writing, but also a desire to listen and learn. No matter our prior experience with journalism, we all gained an understanding of the power of journalism as a gateway to igniting change. We
were introduced to ideas like Critical Race Theory, drag queens, and the intersection of food and culture. Throughout it all, we learned how to be open-minded and bring creative perspectives into our writing.

Yet the most engaging aspect of the program was the community that kept 40 students across the United States eager to learn. Zoom chats would move a mile a minute, causing joy among students, staff, and guests. Whether it was hilarious remarks or positive affirmations from students, the love and laughs were felt despite the distance.
Between arranging Zoom calls outside of PSJP programming, or creating a petition for a deadline extension, we channeled our empowerment from the program to make our voices heard and create unforgettable memories. On behalf of all PSJP students this
summer, we thank the persistence of the staff and the enthusiasm of our guest speakers. Every lecture and workshop encouraged us to view the world differently with new perspectives. Moving forward, we will use the knowledge we gained from PSJP to not only reimagine the future of journalism, but also to excel in all aspects of life. Miles apart, connected forever.

A Digital Summer To Remember

Staff Editorial PictureSTAFF EDITORIAL

This year’s Princeton Summer Journalism Program (PSJP) was built on virtual connections. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, participants couldn’t convene together on campus, and there was no space to build in-person connections. A 10-day program was, with little notice, transformed into a 7-week one, forcing us to adapt in order to make the most of our summer. But program participants are a resilient bunch, and students from a variety of backgrounds united under one common love: journalism.

PSJP empowered students from backgrounds underrepresented in journalism to harness our unique life experiences in order to tell important journalistic stories.

Our cohort faced numerous trials and tribulations during our virtual summer program: poor WiFi connections, different time zones, Zoom mishaps, and the distractions that came with the raging chaos of COVID-19. Sitting at our desks, on our beds, and beside kitchen tables did not align with our initial expectations of PSJP. We overcame Zoom fatigue, sore shoulders and backs, and eyes burning from the bright screens of our phones, computers, and tablets. Sitting at home, without much contact with the outside world, became more difficult as the summer went on. Yet the students and counselors of PSJP prevailed, finding ways to stay connected instead of simply missing out and mourning what could have been.

Through weekly Zoom sessions and a group chat active almost 24 hours a day, we shared our doubts, dreams, and goals throughout the seven-week program. We attended lectures that exposed us to a variety of subjects and workshops that taught us about different types of journalism. And each week we put our new skills to the test, writing news stories, opinion articles, features, and more.

With support from our peers, interns, counselors, and PSJP alumni, we were able to come together as the world around us seemed to be falling apart. Though the pandemic, emerging social movements, and economic upheaval impacted our individual communities in different ways, we formed a community of our own, a haven protected from the unrest. We came together not knowing the people and family we would become. Now, we leave with a network of counselors who have supported us from day one and what are sure to be life-long friendships.

On August 11, our lives will go back to normal—well, our new normal. We will enter our senior year with a newfound perspective on both life and journalism. Despite having to endure a global pandemic and a plethora of other conflicts, we were still able to immerse ourselves in a transformative PSJP experience. We now leave the program having gained invaluable knowledge and bonds strong enough to last a million lifetimes.

SJP students speak


While spending ten days at Princeton University, we participated in a program designed to give us insight into multiple areas of journalism. Toward the end of the program, we spent some time talking about what we enjoyed and what can be improved. We are appreciative for the support from the counselors and speakers, and for the knowledge we gained. We also think that improvements can be made regarding scheduling, interaction time, and campus experience.

SJP’s reliable counselors and encouraging support system were major highlights of the program. We really enjoyed having SJP alumni as part of the staff; they provided the “inside scoop” on what to expect from SJP. The staff constantly encouraged us to believe in the potential of our abilities; we found their guidance on the college application process very insightful and full of tips. The counselors explained that the second half of the program starts after students leave Princeton’s campus, when students will be in constant contact with their designated counselor, who will assist them through the college application process. The program also provided us with a network of sources to help navigate journalism, which was also very useful. Students attended varying workshops, on topics including photojournalism, food journalism, sports journalism and investigative journalism. Students also attended talks on basic skills that a journalist will need—things such as interviewing, researching, remaining ethical, and writing opinions. After experiencing something new every day, students are now prepared to succeed in the world of journalism. 

As a result of the super productive schedule that we had the opportunity to experience, lack of sleep was also a factor. Sleep deprivation is common and a genuine concern among students. Our argument is that, if you are going to have us working all day, at least supply coffee every morning. Lol. Moreover, students would have appreciated a full tour of the campus. Most of the program took place in two locations: the dining hall and the classroom. A campus tour would have provided students with a general idea of Princeton, and the beautiful aspects that make it a great place. Group discussions were popular among students, and we suggest adding more discussion time for bonding between students and counselors. Similarly, students wished for more social collaboration among their peers. Even though students were interested in listening to speakers during the workshops, we would have liked more time to interact with each other.

Over the past ten days, we—students from all over the country—have had the opportunity to learn about a field that interests us. We know we will be assisted in our college admission process this fall, and we now know the importance of sleep. We return home with strong mindsets—and the ability to seek knowledge and to document the world around us.

Staff editorial: Embracing diversity, in journalism and beyond

By Princeton Summer Journal staff

Journalism in general is a struggling enterprise, one which can unfortunately deter plenty of hopefuls. Historically popular media outlets have seen a steep decline in their finances, and many American public schools do not provide students with a course in journalism or media. The declining popularity of traditional journalism among the millennial generation may spell doom for the industry. However, there is potential for aspiring young writers.

Continue reading

Staff editorial: Ephemeral experience, lasting impact

By the SJP Class of 2016

It’s like the beginning of any race: Before the starting gun goes off, you feel nervous, uncertain and a little bit overwhelmed about what lies ahead. That’s how many of us felt when we first arrived at Princeton University’s Summer Journalism Program, flying in from Massachusetts, Missouri, California and everywhere in between.

But over the course of 10 short days and 10 long nights, we hit our stride, all becoming part of a vibrant community of curious students and intellectuals who’ve overcome their circumstances to chase their dreams. Continue reading

Fleeting experience, lasting influence

Brian Rokus :: The Princeton Summer Journal

Brian Rokus :: The Princeton Summer Journal

By the Staff of the Princeton Summer Journal

Congratulations—and welcome to the Princeton University Summer Journalism Program.”

This was the first line in an email we all received in early May. The response was long awaited, but nothing could prepare us for the excitement looming ahead.

Our intellectual journey into the world of journalism started early. Azza, our program coordinator, bombarded us with an array of articles and probing questions in emails leading up to the week of the program. Our anticipation continued to grow.

When we first met, we began to put faces to names. Upon arrival, we conducted interviews with Princeton residents on their opinions of New Jersey Governor and GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie. The following days were a medley of workshops, guest speakers during meals, and getting to know our counselors and peers.

After learning the basics of journalism, we took to the field to use our skills. We wrote reviews of movies and campus plays; we covered a baseball game; we conducted an investigative report. On our trip to New York City, the first visit for many, we toured the offices of Bloomberg, TIME, The New York Times, and The Daily Beast. These experiences in writing were invaluable to us as students interested in journalism. Continue reading

Daring to dream of a brighter future

studentsatthetimes-FullColor-2By the Staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

Ten days ago, we arrived at Princeton University for the start of the Summer Journalism Program. We came from all over the country with different backgrounds and cultures, but we shared a common interest in journalism.

Today, we leave Princeton as friends and as members of the broader SJP family. We have had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and formed long-lasting friendships cemented through long days of workshops and late nights in the newsroom. Continue reading

A life-changing journey

By the Staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

It is hard to believe we have been here for 10 days. It feels like we were just in our first workshop, with Richard standing at the front of the room, towering and intimidating. He asked us, “What is journalism?” It seemed like a simple question, and we all thought we had the answer. Little did we know the answer to this complex question would unfold during our immersive educational journey. Continue reading