Columbia Links


Columbia Links is a news literacy, journalism skills and leadership program for Chicago teens and teachers, housed at Columbia College Chicago. Through workshops, mentoring, and the creation of youth-produced publications, Links works to build expertise, relationships, skills and opportunities that connect students, teachers and volunteers through journalism, in the process revitalizing youth media in Chicago.


We are committed to:

*Producing high quality, ethical journalism with authentic teen voices

*Creating opportunities for youth who have been marginalized

*Developing critical thinking skills in teenagers

*Broadening the world view of Chicago youth

*Educating students, teachers and the public about the core values of journalism

*Fostering free expression and civic engagement

*Promoting the rights and responsibilities of journalism under the First Amendment


Currently, we offer three student academies plus an I-Team, two J-Camps and a Town Hall Meeting each year:

Basic Reporting Academy:

Teens are taught the basics of news and digital literacy and journalism, including ethics, to select an article/subject, research, compile data, interview and write either a personal narrative that includes interviews or an article for print, broadcast and digital consumption.

Investigative/Multimedia Reporting Academy:

Teen reporters learn how to conduct interviews with experts and officials, as well as people affected by the subject of the articles, work with others to produce at least two in-depth digital news packages, using audio recording and digital cameras to support their articles.

Special Reporting Academy:

Teens focus on singular subjects, such as violence or school reform. Teen reporters produce original research, gather primary sources and write an editorial or suggest recommendations related to the subject. The students then have an opportunity to present their findings to decision-makers.


The best teen reporters from Links academies take on in-depth investigative reporting project using data-mining on a single topic of interest to youth, such as violence as a public health problem. Links partners with experienced investigative reporters at The Chicago Reporter or the Better Government Association to give students the skills to build a cohesive story from numerous sources. Students present their findings, which focus on social change, through direct meetings with government officials and at a Town Hall Meeting.

Journalism or J-Camps:

Two full-day digital journalism camps are held on Saturday to give those students who were not selected to attend the academies a “boot camp” or intensive experience in news and digital literacy and reporting. Students learn how to construct a story and interview sources for articles that appear in print and as audio/video productions on

Town Hall Meeting:

Teens from the I-Team Extra Academy present their investigative story findings to government officials and the community and conduct a conversation with the audience about a thematic issue. A panel of teens and a panel of adults discuss the problems and solutions to many complex social problem uncovered in student investigative research. Questions are taken from the audience to assure community participation, and potential solutions are presented to government decision-makers and community activist organizations.

Teacher Workshops, Lesson Plans and Classroom Visits:

In an attempt to take the program beyond our campus location, Columbia Links is offering news and digital literacy and journalism teacher workshops, lesson plans on the website and classes taught by our staff in CPS classrooms.


Columbia Links: This is what you get


Columbia Links in words and pictures


Brenda Butler

Executive Director


Bill Montgomery

Lead Lecturer


Charles Jefferson

Program Coordinator


Youth Media Participants

*Free Spirit Media

*Community Television Network

*Street Level Youth Media

*Citizen Advocacy Center

*Open Youth Networks

*We the People Media

*True Star Foundation

*Young Chicago Authors


*Digital Youth Network

*Convergence Academies

*Mikva Challenge











Columbia College Department of Journalism

Attn: Columbia LINKS

33 E. Congress Parkway, 548 or 550

Chicago, IL 60608


How to get here: Map


Red Line: Near Harrison Stop

Green Line: Near Adams Stop

Brown Line: Near Adams or Library stops

© 2018   Created by Columbia Links.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service