The students didn’t know what hit them.
At the start ThreeSixty Journalism’s TV Broadcast Camp, in partnership with the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, most of our nine high school campers had little to no experience in video production. On their very first day of a one-week camp, we challenged these advanced students to edit together a mock video story with b-roll, voiceovers, and an interview – all under an hour. Let me tell you, that room was chaos. Against all odds – and technical difficulties – they each completed their packages with flying colors.
This high-stress environment was representative of their week and of how the world of broadcast journalism works. Students learned how to write for television, what to say in a reporter stand-up, how to speak for TV and how to collaborate with dozens of our volunteer media professionals, including from the University of St. Thomas, Padilla, KARE 11, KSTP-TV, WCCO-TV, TPT, FOX 9, BMA Cable Networks and the University of MN Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication. And just like every journalist in the industry, they had to get their stories in by deadline.
Each student was paired with a professional reporter, videographer and editor who worked alongside them through every step of the process. Josie Morss, a rising senior at Lakeville North High School, was coached by St. Thomas videographer John Sullivan and veteran TV journalist Vineeta Sawkar, now Senior Media Relations Manager for the University of St. Thomas.
“[Vineeta] really helped me focus my angle and made sure I was asking the right questions,” Josie said. “She made me feel comfortable in front of the camera as well as behind it and taught me what to expect in a TV script. I could not have done it without her honestly.”
As the week went on, you could see the shift in students’ mindsets. They were more confident, they were taking charge of their stories and when faced with obstacles, they asked themselves, “Okay, what can we do instead?” One of our students, Datelle Straub, even asked us to start referring to them not as ‘campers,’ but as ‘young journalists’!
Straub worked with fellow young journalist Emil Liden. Liden says one of his favorite parts was getting his story assignment on the Minnesota United soccer team, which included onsite interviews at their training facilities at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
“TV Camp gave me this wonderful opportunity that I would not have gotten anywhere else,” Emil said. “[I] am extremely grateful for the ThreeSixty program.”
Other highlights from students this week were getting a one-on-one voicing lesson from KARE 11 Sunrise Anchor Gia Vang, visiting the St. Paul Neighborhood Network’s studio and getting a personal tour of KSTP-TV from anchor and reporter Matt Belanger during a live broadcast.
One of my highlights?
Being able to watch their growth from the front of the classroom.
This summer, ThreeSixty gave me the wonderful opportunity to help instruct and lead their annual TV camp.
After the last day of camp ended, I rushed to my best friend’s place and began gushing about the week and how proud I was of everything my students had accomplished. In the midst of my stories, I suddenly found myself holding back tears… which I later stopped holding back.
In the flurry of preparations and daily activities, I hadn’t had time to process how impactful this experience was, not just for the students, but for me as well. Seven years ago, I was sitting right where our students were in my very first ThreeSixty summer camp. This summer, there I was, standing in front of the classroom as a lead instructor.
There’s so much that you take for granted when you’re young, when you’re still not quite able to see the bigger picture. To see the gleam in students’ eyes when they finished their first interviews, the wide-eyed wonder they looked at their mentors with, the proud smiles they gave each other after getting to view their packages – I didn’t truly stop to appreciate those the first time around.
I said to one of our students, you’re never fully able to tell someone else’s story until you know your own. ThreeSixty Journalism was the place where I gave my identity a voice, where I discovered the impact of storytelling for myself and others.
To have been able to watch these students grow was a reminder of the power of taking a chance on someone, of giving them an opportunity and an environment where they are set up for success. In a world where journalism is under fire and inspiration can sometimes be hard to find, it’s a reminder that we need these students just as much as they need us.
These students are going to thrive, whether it’s in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas or somewhere farther away from home. Stay tuned as they make an impact in newsrooms and workplaces around the world.