Branching Out

Our target audience for the print publication is, unsurprisingly, high school students and teachers. Wanting our demographic range to expand, I considered how to make the print publication appeal to a new audience. I thought back to the first place where I had seen a copy of the West Side Story: my junior high library. Realizing that this school did not have a newspaper of its own, I decided to start one.

 I reached out to the teacher in charge of Northwest Junior High’s existing literary magazine, the Northwest Passage, about creating a journalism branch of the club in collaboration with the West Side Story. He supported the idea, and we began enacting my proposal.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Emails used with permission from Amari Nasafi.

At the first introduction to the program, we discussed various journalism topics, ranging from potential story ideas to how to ask for advertisement sponsors. I walked students through reporting basics and promoted the West Side Story to students attending West High next year. The enthusiasm in the room was immense; it truly was astounding to begin building a legacy that will hopefully continue long after I leave.

Connecting with professionals

I was selected to participate in the Al Neuharth Free Spirit & Journalism Conference, a five-day conference that selects one student from each state to embark on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to hear from successful journalists. One speaker I encountered was David Fahrenthold, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. After he finished speaking, I ran after him to ask a question, and we struck up a conversation about his work.

Photo with Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist David Fahrenthold at the Al Neuharth Free Spirit & Journalism conference in Washington, D.C.

Later that fall, I reached out to Mr. Fahrenthold and asked if he would speak alongside me at the IHSPA conference. While he could not physically attend, he called in during my presentation, giving students from around the state the chance to ask questions and provide insight on what reporting in the field was like.

Extending a passion beyond the newsroom

After first experimenting with photography in Introduction to Journalism, I shot purely recreationally. However, I later learned how expensive and inaccessible local senior photographers were. When a friend asked if I’d take their senior pictures for them, an idea took hold. From this spark, a small business called Anjali Huynh Photography emerged.

A screenshot of the website homepage for Anjali Huynh Photography.

Through taking portraits, I aspired to equalize opportunities for students of all socioeconomic statuses. I learned how to promote a business, set prices, manage time, and gain a public following via social media platforms. Furthermore, I executed Adobe Photoshop skills learned in newspaper.

Eventually, I expanded my repertoire to include family photos and weddings, and received features on multiple national portrait pages. I used profits to benefit personally meaningful causes; I accumulated nearly $500 to build homes for displaced individuals in Bangladesh and am organizing a fundraiser for Apne Aap, an organization combating Indian sex trafficking and child prostitution. Photography transformed into an art form: creativity fueled into passion that I used to ameliorate society.

To visit my official business website, click here.