Progress worth celebrating

I tuck myself into a chair in the middle of Minnesota Public Radio’s spacious UBS Forum.

Sitting to my left are nine advanced ThreeSixty Journalism students and young alums. As advanced students, they had spent the previous four days producing radio broadcast stories at Minnesota Public Radio with the help of newsroom staff. This was their celebration.

Several dozen people—MPR staff, ThreeSixty board members, parents—file in and find seats. The students’ faces beam as some well-known MPR personalities introduce each story, one by one, before it plays over the UBS Forum’s sound system.

Minneapolis Roosevelt student Talia Bradley (center) interviews a St. Paul Saints player (left) with her mentor, Jonathan Blakely, MPR news program director, during ThreeSixty’s Broadcast Radio Camp in July at CHS Field. (Photo courtesy of Maria Alejandra Cardona, MPR News)

Sitting behind me is a group of 15 Twin Cities high school students. As ThreeSixty’s newest students, they spent the past three weeks with me at the University of St. Thomas, where I encouraged them to become storytellers and helped them practice the fundamentals of journalism.

They, like their peers, were celebrating on this day—that they had recently completed reported stories that would be published in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press in early September, as well as in this magazine. At this point in the afternoon, though, they listen intently to their advanced peers’ stories, gaining a glimpse of the opportunities that await them as they progress through ThreeSixty.

Exactly one week earlier, sitting in the Anderson Student Center at St. Thomas was a group of 10 advanced ThreeSixty students and young alums—many of the same students who attended the radio camp. They were celebrating, too.

They’d spent the week reporting on health equity in the Twin Cities and produced five video broadcast pieces, which they were showing to an audience. All of those stories were published on WCCO-TV’s website, and all of them will be published on the Blue Cross Blue Shield Center for Prevention’s online channels.

At the beginning of summer 2017, we at ThreeSixty knew we were embarking on new terrain by adding an all-new TV broadcast camp, in partnership with the Center for Prevention, Padilla and WCCO-TV, and an all-new radio broadcast camp, in partnership with MPR (see page 4). By the end of summer 2017, we knew that these camps were a success, and that they provided a foundation on which we could continue building.

These new camps give students opportunities above and beyond ThreeSixty’s traditional offerings. They also allow ThreeSixty, which has traditionally been print-focused, to provide deep, impactful camp experiences in the three main journalistic media: print, TV and radio.

As I sat on the chair in the UBS Forum, listening to our students’ radio stories, reflecting on our students’ TV stories and thinking about our students’ newspaper stories, I couldn’t help but be struck by the progress ThreeSixty continues to make in serving the next generation of journalists and storytellers.

That’s progress worth celebrating.