Newhouse School of Public Communications in Skaneateles, NY



Each Fall more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students from the the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University canvas a small town in upstate New York, recording sound, writing stories and shooting photos and video. This year the town of choice is Skaneateles.

Photojournalism students from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications spent the weekend of Sept. 25-27 at its 11th annual Fall Workshop. Through photography, video, audio and writing, students documented life in Skaneateles.

The workshop is organized by the Department of Multimedia Photography & Design (MPD) and uses equipment loaned by Apple and Nikon. More than 100 students worked side-by-side with about 20 professional journalists from across the country, including editors from NPR, South Carolina’s Charlotte Observer, Newark, New Jersey’s Star-Ledger and AOL.

“For many Newhouse students, the workshop is a pivotal point in their education,” says Bruce Strong, associate professor of MPD and the workshop director. “It’s a real-world, real-time exercise.”

David Sutherland, Alexia Foundation Chair for documentary photography at Newhouse, said it’s a vital part of his students’ experience. “It makes them be photographers for 24 hours a day, instead of thinking as a student, ‘I have to do this little task over here then go and do history and calculus,’ they come here for three days and it’s total immersion in photography.”

Michael Scott O’Neal, a student in the Military Photojournalism program at Newhouse, participated in the workshop for the first time. The job, he said, was “not as easy as I thought.” “It’s an opportunity to take what you learn in the classroom and apply it in real-world situations,” he said. “It’s not only your instructors but also professionals in the field constructively critiquing your work.”

The workshop happens in a different town every year. In 2008, it was Clay; in 2007, Cazenovia.

Tom Kennedy, former managing editor of multimedia for and former director of photography for National Geographic, said, “Journalism is about providing information within the context of a story that enables people to come into contact with the forces that shape their lives on a daily basis. Part of the fun is the challenge of helping students grow and learn to tell these stories.” Each student will complete at least one story in the Skaneateles community. Their work will be published in the Post Standard as well as online at In 2010, these images will be the focus of student-produced books.

Skaneateles mayor, Bob Green, said, “It’s events like this that define the word community.”