Alum Covers Racial Reparations Beat

Twin Cities Newsrooms, ThreeSixty and MNSPJ have started the search for 2024’s St. Paul Jaycees Reporting Intern.

The Reporting Intern will be named by March 15. The Reporting Intern will be a college journalist, ThreeSixty program alum, and a St. Paul resident/community member with ties to the city.

February – April 2024: MNSPJ will invite applications from newsroom employers who can commit to assigning the Reporting Intern to majority non-crime news stories. The internship will run from June to August. Newsrooms who can match the St. Paul Jaycees grant are strongly encouraged to submit an application! More information and application link to come.

Read about what last year’s intern, Isabel Saavedra-Weis worked on with the Pioneer Press below.

ThreeSixty alum Isabel Saavedra-Weis spent summer interning with the Pioneer Press through a grant with the St. Paul Jaycees Charitable Fund. In partnership with the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists (MNSPJ), ThreeSixty selected Saavedra-Weis

Isabel Saavedra-Weis
Isabel Saavedra-Weis

to receive a funded reporter internship to cover non-crime news in St. Paul.


Saavedra-Weis, who graduated from Macalester College in 2023 and St. Paul Academy in 2019, is the first intern to be funded by this grant.

The grant-created internship was designed so a ThreeSixty alum with ties to St. Paul could choose from a pool of applicant news organizations to work for the summer. Saavedra-Weis choose to work at the Pioneer Press where she had interned in previous summers, and was tasked with the assignment of reporting on racial reparations.

ThreeSixty was awarded the same grant for summer 2024 from the St. Paul Jaycees and will put out a call to newsrooms in February 2024 to apply.

ThreeSixty talked with Saavedra-Weis about her experience reporting on racial reparations with the Pioneer Press and the importance of community journalism.

How did you get involved with ThreeSixty Journalism as a high school student?  

My high school newspaper director told me about the summer camps ThreeSixty had to offer, so one summer I signed up for the newspaper, radio, and TV broadcast camp. I’m still amazed at the media rooms I was able to be in as a high schooler through ThreeSixty, and it definitely gave me the confidence to continue pursuing journalism.

The St. Paul Jaycees grant funded a newsroom internship for a ThreeSixty alum. Where did you intern and what stories did you cover?   

I interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press covering racial reparations in light of St. Paul’s new Racial Reparations commission. I wrote Q&A’s with political leaders, published articles about community outreach organizations that had been doing reparations work, and shined a light on activists that are vocal on the subject.

Reparations is a large topic to cover. How did you prepare yourself for this project? Did you have any mentors?  

It is a big topic, with a lot of complex and heavy history. I definitely worried that I might not be the most qualified person to take on such a big concept. I did a lot of research to catch myself up on the conversation about reparations that has been going on well before I started this beat. It felt especially important to inform myself of Minnesota’s history of slavery, lynchings, and dishonored land treaties so I knew the context my conversations were rooted in. Mike Burbach and Fred Melo were incredibly helpful in connecting me with people in the city that they thought would be helpful. Ultimately, my mentors were the people I was fortunate enough to interview, many of which were part of communities that were demanding racial reparations. They offered informative and personal stories that helped me better understand the issue I was covering.

What types of conversations do you hope St Paulites will have after reading your stories? For Minnesotans?  

I hope people start talking more about our state’s history. Minnesota is a beautiful place with a troubled past. My suspicion is that our need for reparations lies largely in our wariness of looking at our sometimes heartbreaking history and owning up to the harm that has been caused. I consider myself well-read and well-educated, and I was learning things about Minnesota’s history that I never knew while writing this beat. And we can’t begin to understand what reparations mean in today’s society if we don’t understand where we’ve been.

The grant specifically wanted to support someone with “strong St. Paul ties.” From your experience, how important is community-based storytelling and journalism?  

I remember that after George Floyd was murdered and civil unrest broke out across the Twin Cities, hundreds of journalists flooded Minnesota to get the story. There was a lot of conversation in the journalism world about how the stories that were published by reporters from outside Minnesota ran a higher risk giving an inaccurate narrative around topics that were so sensitive. It matters when a reporter is part of the community they report on. They often have trusting relationships with the people they interview. They understand the nuances of the local politics, or the relationships between different neighborhoods. Community-based story-telling is ultimately a lot less “othering,” and I think that’s really valuable in our very divided country.

How can Twin Cities newsrooms support young journalists who want to tell meaningful stories?  

Create partnerships with educational programs that encourage diversity and produce diverse media teams. Invest time and money into students from marginalized backgrounds. Don’t ask young journalists to leave their racial, gender or religious identity at the newsroom door. Understand that those identities benefit great journalism. Work together with young journalists to understand what issues and stories they might be able to cover best.

How does this internship fit in with your professional journey?  

I have always been and will always be a storyteller. I currently hope to pursue a graduate degree in literature to eventually conduct research and teach at the university level. Journalism revealed to me how much I value public, accessible knowledge. That value is most definitely following me into academia, and wherever else I go.

Any advice for ThreeSixty students and alums? 

My dad always says to me “la que no chilla, no mama” – a Mexican saying that roughly translates to “children who don’t cry, don’t eat.” You can’t always wait for opportunities to fall into your lap. It’s okay to make noise and ask for advice from seasoned professionals, ask for an internship or a job, ask for a raise, ask for someone to take a chance on you. So many of the most rewarding journalism experiences I’ve had happened because despite doubting my own abilities or qualifications, I had enough guts to ask for an opportunity to grow and learn. Media needs you, and you are allowed to be here.