About the Reporting Labs
PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs are classrooms, after-school programs and clubs around the country producing original, inspiring reports about how national and global issues affect local communities.
Back by popular demand, Student Reporting Labs were featured in a second South by Southwest edu panel this year. Austin High School teacher Gil Garcia, students Samantha and Max, local PBS station mentor Lynn Boswell of KLRU and PBS NewsHour Managing Editor-Education Leah Clapman spoke about the program and answered questions from the audience.
In this excerpt, a student talks about the "exposé" he hoped to make about school budget cuts and teacher firings, which turned into a more informative look at how principals and school officials make tough decisions.
Here mentor Lynn Boswell talks about the media literacy skills that students pick up during the course of making Student Reporting Labs videos. "These are the skills that make them good voters, good citizens, good readers… it's incredibily valuable."
In the clip below, audience members and student panelists discuss how the program is transformational — changing the way they view their community and the media in general.
The goal, explains PBS NewsHour's Leah Clapman is to break the 1-9-90 rule of participation inequality. If only one percent of young people create media, nine percent curate and mash-up and 90 percent are passive consumers of content, as studies suggest, how can this program give young people the tools to improve the media landscape by producing respectful and thoughtful journalism?
Teacher Gil Garcia talks about how Student Reporting Labs are a "cool vehicle for learning" teaching not just production skills, but communication and people skills. "That's the coolest part for me, they are learning to be people, they are learning to be young adults and engaged members of the community." Anytime the principal does a walk-through, Gil says, he always tries to plan for when the kids are working with the mentors, "I want my principal to see this."
Lynn Bowswell describes how students wrote a "magic letter" – a Freedom of Information Request – that forced the Austin government to turn over water-usage records.
Teacher Gil Garcia discusses the nuts and bolts of getting the Student Reporting Labs up and running. And later, PBS NewsHour's Leah Clapman answers a question about how to encourage students to be original story-tellers and experiment with new forms of news presentation and content– all part of a quest to make news appealing and engaging for young people.
Leah Clapman and Lynn Boswell discuss how the project deals with journalism ethics and the gray areas that are a part of an authentic reporting experience.
And for those interested in the "why" of the project, PBS NewsHour Managing Editor-Education Leah Clapman talks about how this project addresses the needs for new learning experiences, public television engagement and new forms of youth-focused journalism.