J-Ideas was established at Ball State University with the aim of developing and encouraging excellence in high school journalism through on-site activities, tailored programs, distance learning and digital activities and scholarship. Our goal is to foster First Amendment and civic awareness in our public and private schools, and to bring teachers, students, principals and professional editors together to develop the best and brightest young talent for the journalism profession.
Our outreach complements training and development in our secondary education effort at Ball State, for years a leader in collegiate and scholastic journalism education. Our residential workshops have touched tens of thousands of high school journalists since the early 1950s. J-Ideas broadens that work at a time when the news industry dearly needs to find the best reporters and editors. In an increasingly confusing and competitive media landscape, our goal is to do this by linking high schools with colleges and professional newspapers.
At J-Ideas, we seek to identify, inform and inspire a new generation of journalists and media professionals.
Warren Watson, Director
Warren Watson is the director of J-Ideas. Watson came to Ball State as J-Ideas Director in July 2004 from the American Press Institute, where he was vice president for extended learning and operations. He also served as co-president and associate director in his six years there.
While at API, Watson led workshops on newsroom issues, management and leadership, marketing and advertising. Watson researched, planned, moderated, and taught these seminars, both in Reston and around the country. In 2001, Watson edited “Crisis Journalism, A Handbook for Media Response,” an API handbook published after the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Watson has been active in the Society for News Design since 1987. In 2003, he was appointed the president of the Society, an international organization of 2,700 members. He is vice chair of the publications committee of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and a frequent contributor to newspaper industry publications. Watson has held reporting, editing, art and management positions at various newspapers, from the tiny Somersworth-Berwicks (Maine) Free Press to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. The New Hampshire native earned a bachelor’s degree from University of New Hampshire in 1973.
Angela Thomas, Assistant Director
Angela Thomas is the assistant director of J-Ideas. Before joining the team at Ball State in August 2006, Thomas served as Director of Corporate Communications for ATA Airlines. Prior work includes 17 years of public relations experience in several industries in the areas of healthcare, education, government and law.
Thomas was manager of communications for Nuveen Investments, senior media relations specialist for Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, media relations manager for the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and marketing/communications manager for the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
She was named Young Careerist by The National Federation of Business & Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., Outstanding Service Contributor by the Illinois State Employees’ Combined Appeal Program and was recognized by the PRSA College of Fellows Speaker Leadership and Legacy Conference.
The Chicago native earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism.
Gerry Appel, Education Specialist
Gerry Appel, an Indiana native, earned his high school journalism teaching license while student-teaching at Delta High School (Muncie, Ind.) before joining J-Ideas full-time in March 2006. He also assisted the Homestead High School (Fort Wayne, Ind.) student newspaper as a consultant.
Appel has worked as a freelance reporter for Fort Wayne Newspapers Inc., assignment editor for WPTA-TV (ABC) and as a news producer for WISE-TV (NBC). At Ball State, Appel majored in journalism and minored in telecommunications and also earned his master’s in journalism and teaching license from the Muncie, Ind. school.
Brenda Pritchard, Project Secretary
Jake Williams, Graduate Assistant