The first week in July kicked off the second annual Media Literacy Bootcamp, organized by sCOOL Media and the Association for European Journalists – Bulgaria and sponsored by Fulbright Bulgaria and the America for Bulgaria Foundation. Taking place this year along the banks of the Maritsa River, this selective program invited 24 high school journalists from across the country to take part in practical workshops on writing articles, pitching ideas, video editing, photojournalism, digital tools, storytelling, interview techniques, podcasting, factchecking and time management. Their final goal would be an original journalistic piece on a highly relevant current topic. Two of the winning group projects can be read on the sCOOL website: Career in Bulgaria : “hell” or an opportunity for international workers? and “I thought I deserve a promotion”: Gender-based discrimination at work persists.
The bootcamp itself also offered a rare chance to meet real media professionals who have already built successful careers. Guest lecturers from Bulgaria and abroad – including Fulbright scholar Matthew Brunwasser, international correspondent Irene Caselli, Ivan Georgiev of bTV and Marko Zoric of BBC News Africa – shared insights from their professional lives and gave participants the chance to deliberate on a wide range of topics, from managing a good work-life balance and networking to ethical reporting and the dangers faced by journalists covering conflict zones. There were also several “field trips” throughout the city of Plovdiv. Some highlights included visiting the Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis, touring Kapital’s Plovdiv office and enjoying a refreshing lemonade and conversation with the team at Pod Tepeto, an independent local outlet that also runs a popular craft brewery.