News Team: Plenty of Reasons to Smile

Shane KitzmanNine reporters and editors stood at the front of the classroom, roughly 20 pairs of young, ambitious eyes glued to them as they spoke.

First, their name. Then, their journalism background.

And then, why they’ve decided to spend three Saturdays volunteering to work with ThreeSixty students.

Shane Kitzman with group

It sounded like a lot of fun, said one.

During one of ThreeSixty Journalism’s busiest News Team meetings of the year, this simple smile-worthy scene reminded us of the mark this program leaves on so many people.

They’d volunteered before and left feeling inspired, said another.

They wished they had a program like this when they were in high school, another added.

During one of ThreeSixty Journalism’s busiest News Team meetings of the year, this simple smile-worthy scene reminded us of the mark this program leaves on so many people.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the News Team meeting on Feb. 20 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul:

  • ThreeSixty Scholarship interviews. A group of six seniors interviewed with Duchesne Drew (Bush Foundation), Laura Lee (KAAL TV) and Dina Gavrilos (University of St. Thomas) in the morning at the Anderson Student Center for a chance to earn the coveted ThreeSixty Scholarship, a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend St. Thomas and study Communication & Journalism (COJO).
  • Youth Social Media Summit planning. While that was taking place, a small group of ThreeSixty students worked with five volunteer professionals in the Twin Cities to rehearse their roles for the Youth Social Media Summit, which takes place Saturday, Feb. 27 at the University of St. Thomas. Students and volunteers rehearsed their breakout sessions – “Social media activism vs. ‘slacktivism,’” “Building your brand and connecting,” and “A behind-the-scenes look at a social media campaign” – in front of an audience for the first time.
  • Journalism building blocks. And while all of that was taking place, other ThreeSixty journalists were practicing using one of their most powerful tools – their smartphones – to take print-worthy photos. Afterward, they tried their hand at covering events with alternative story formats. How do you show the stances of this year’s presidential candidates, or the rising rate of college tuition costs, in a creative, nonlinear story format? That’s what the students had to figure out.
  • The “writing coaches.” Toward the end of the morning, every ThreeSixty student met their “writing coach” – a local journalist who volunteers three Saturdays to help 2-3 students write stories for ThreeSixty Magazine. After the writing coaches’ inspirational introduction, and pizza, the students and writing coaches worked on developing their story ideas and finding sources to interview.
  • “Communicate with Class.” Shane Kitzman, a public relations senior specialist at Best Buy, ended a busy day on a light (and often humorous) note when he spoke to the students about communication etiquette. The two main takeaways: Absolutely no ghosting (Yes, he knows how to speak their language.) And, number two: Be cordial, be courteous and be classy.

A special thanks to the 10 writing coaches (Libor Jany, Jessie Van Berkel, Katie Humphrey, Erin Golden, Kathy Berdan, Liz Mohr, Terry Wolkerstorfer, Cristeta Boarini, Britta Greene and Marcheta Fornoff), four “Social Media Pros” (Erica Dao, Erin Lilliencrantz, David Jungers and Jim Hammerand), three Scholarship committee members (Drew, Lee and Gavrilos) and other volunteers (Johanna Holub, Simone Cazares, Kitzman) who helped make this a great day for students.