“Broadcasting needs more youth voices like mine” 2022 Gwen Ifill Fellows share their stories

By Christine Zirneklis, SRL Senior Collaborations Project Manager

This year’s Gwen Ifill Legacy Fellows covered important stories in their communities and refined their reporting skills at PBS stations around the country this summer. Fellows include Tiffany Davis at APTV in Birmingham, Alabama, Insherah Qazi at Arkansas PBS in Conway, Arkansas, and Zion Williams at DPTV in Detroit, Michigan.

TIFFANY DAVIS, a senior at Clay Chalkville High School in Pinson, Alabama, worked with Alabama PBS alongside Director of Education Production and Digital Media Heather Daniels-Whitson to produce a piece about Studio 2500, the first Black-owned art space in Birmingham. Davis explored its mission to serve the community through visual arts that promote diversity and freedom of expression. Watch the final piece:

Davis went into this experience not realizing that she would aspire to go into broadcast journalism, but after a summer spent producing her own story, it has become  her new goal.“…broadcasting needs more youth voices like mine.” And she’s inspired by the example of Gwen Ifill’s life and work, “Something that I loved about Gwen Ifill was her bravery. She talked about real, real issues…her courage gives me the courage to convey messages that will impact the world just as her legacy did.” 

Daniels-Whitson says that Alabama Public Television is “grateful for the opportunity to help develop new public media talent. Tiffany did an excellent job on her story and we are so proud of what she has accomplished.” 

Watch more behind the scenes here

INSHERAH QAZI, a freshman at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia studying social justice and film,  spent her fellowship working with Casey Sanders, outreach producer at Arkansas PBS. Her story explores the reasons why Arkansas has the lowest voter turnout in the nation, and was included as part of the We the Young People: Moments of Truth special (additional production and editing by Becky Wandel and Jason Miller).  

“Being a Gwen Ifill Fellow with Student Reporting Labs helped me gain valuable journalism experience,” said Qazi. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Arkansas PBS on Low Voter Turnout. It was amazing learning about such an important issue.”

“The chance to host a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL) 2022 Gwen Ifill Legacy Fellow was an enriching experience for Insherah and Arkansas PBS,” said Casey Sanders, Arkansas PBS’s outreach producer. “We worked to ensure Insherah’s growth as a trusted and authentic voice in the media landscape and embrace her enthusiasm for a career that helps us all understand and care about the world around us.”

ZION WILLIAMS is a senior at the Frederick V. Pankow Center in Clinton Township, Michigan who spent the summer with DPTV and the One Detroit team, working with Zosette Guir, manager of content operations and production. 

Williams first connected with Student Reporting Labs as a co-host for the first season of On Our Minds, SRL’s Edward R. Murrow award-winning teen mental health podcast. Her final piece explores how social media impacts youth mental health, especially its impacts on how teens perceive the world. 

“I learned a lot, and I really got a lot of freedom, which I liked. I got to produce my story the way I wanted to,” Williams said in an interview with Guir. And, there were some surprises along the way: “I had to write a script!  Before this internship, I had never written a script, and that was the hardest part.” 

For Williams, the most important takeaway from her experience was “the importance of conversations, and allowing an interview to be organic, not forcing a conversation… but just really listening to what they have to say and their perspectives.”

Want more from behind the scenes? Check out Williams’ wrap-up interview

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Gwen Ifill Legacy Fellow this summer, fill out the application for 2023.