Takeaways from Capitol Reporting

ThreeSixty reporters took a moment to reflect on what they learn at the Winter News Team: Capitol Edition experience. Students spent President’s Day at the Capitol interviewing lawmakers and advocates about legislative issues impacting young people.

We asked reporters to share more about their experience and here are some of their responses.

What Happens at the Capitol Starts with People

By María José  Plotts

MJ Bill and Abigeya
María José Plotts (left) works with Reporting Coach Bill Wareham and Abigeya Akalewold to report on legislation passed to support youth experiencing homelessness.

Walking up the grand steps to the entrance of the Minnesota Capitol building, I reveled in the fact I had such an amazing opportunity to get close to the inner workings of legislative life. Throughout the tour of the Capitol, I marveled at the grandeur of the building and contemplated the power of the decisions made in each room. The architecture reflected the importance of government. Everything seemed so much larger than life.

However, throughout the workshop, I learned that what happens at the Capitol is only possible through the actions of individual people. Nothing would get done without the passion driving the legislators. They would not be making policy decisions without the support of the constituents.

I think this is what many people have forgotten: their role in government. The Capitol is open to the public. The general public can testify on issues, representing to the legislature what a group of Minnesotans cares about and believes in.

With my passion in political science and international relations, I jumped at the ThreeSixty opportunity where a mentor would walk with me as I interviewed representatives and advocacy workers. Never had I received the chance to sit down and talk with professionals about heavy, real-life topics. I have learned so much about the intersection of politics and journalism.

Read María José  Plotts’ reported story here.

Impressed by the Capitol, People Doing Advocacy

By Abigeya Akalewold

Student Capitol tour
ThreeSixty students learned about how democracy works at the Minnesota State Capitol during a tour.

By the end of ThreeSixty Journalism – Winter News Team: Capitol Edition, I learned a lot. I got the chance to discuss youth homelessness with advocates and a representative. Before this workshop, I was aware of the issue of homeless youth, but I had no awareness of how much impact it had on kids, teens and families.

I became aware of the vast number of individuals who know very little or nothing about this problem, and I saw myself through them because I was in their shoes a few weeks ago. Something that came as a shock to me during my research was the fact that around 5,000 teenagers don’t have a place to sleep at night in Minnesota.

When I knew about where we were visiting, I was so excited. I noticed a lot of historical paintings on our Capitol visit. It was an impressive sight. Truth be told, I’d always thought Minnesota didn’t have many impressive sights, but the Capitol proved me wrong.

Affirming My Call to Social Justice Work

By Erica Lee

Erica Lee Podium
ThreeSixty reporter Erica Lee stands at the press conference podium in the Capitol.

The collaboration I did as a Capitol news reporter for ThreeSixty has allowed me to look within and figure out the kind of social justice activist I want to be.

My life’s calling is to tackle racial and urban injustice within North Minneapolis, the community I’m from. This passion for social justice has led me to advocacy work in various cities across the Twin Cities. However, throughout all the work I’ve done, something has been missing that this workshop made me aware of: Community. I am missing my community.

I used to want to ride solo as an activist and take on all these heavy, systemic issues by myself. Despite this, I had the opportunity to collaborate with a fellow participant in this program to conduct interviews with committed lawmakers and trailblazing advocates to write a news story about the legalization of marijuana and the importance of social equity and education being highlighted throughout the process. If I hadn’t worked with my partner on this project, the final product wouldn’t have had the same level of depth, meaning and significance. Thanks to this joint effort, I had someone to share and receive opinions from, to learn new things with, and most importantly someone to share the weight of the work with.

This experience truly reminded me of the importance of community and showed me that the kind of social justice activist I want to be is the one that works with the community, not just for it. You can aspire to change and revolutionize anything, but if you don’t have a strong network of connections, there’s only so much you can accomplish.

There’s an African proverb that encapsulates my main takeaway from this experience which reads, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Click here to learn more about ThreeSixty’s 2024 Winter Workshop: Capitol Edition.