SRL Connected Educator of the Month: June 2016

Educator Jake Schoneker reminds his students that they all have a story to tell.

As the Director at the Media Enterprise Alliance, Jake encourages his students to be good listeners and to be open-minded, two fundamental qualities he believes are the foundations of becoming a great journalist.

Jake explains the impact of the large generational gap in how we receive our news.

How do you like to receive your news?
I get my news online and through social media — Facebook mostly, along with Twitter for breaking news. I’m usually on Google News for a snapshot of the day’s top stories and check out a few other favorite news sites regularly, including the NewsHour of course! I’m also always listening to NPR in the car.  

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?
I try to show my students that everyone has a story worth sharing. Often high school students don’t think of their own lives as particularly meaningful or noteworthy, but there is so much going on in a young person’s life and so many stories to tell. From a journalism standpoint I emphasize being a generous listener and to keep an open mind when approaching your story. You never know how the story may change from the time you conceive it to the time you finish the final cut. Finally, when piecing your story together, telling an effective story in broadcast is all about the transitions — how you lead your viewer from one character or element to the next.

Would you rather live a year without radio or television? Explain.
Television. I could probably use a little less screen time.

How can student reports help promote a greater understanding of the world?
There is such a generational gap in the way news is consumed and what news even is. Mainstream media tries and tries to reach young people, but they often don’t know how to do it. Young people get disengaged with the news and what’s happening in the wider world, often because they don’t identify with the people they see and the voices they hear in the media. SRL reports offer a chance to bridge that gap to show that young people’s voices are important and that they have a place in the media landscape. The next generation of journalists and storytellers are already here!

How can we get youth more interested in the news?
We have to tell stories that are relevant to them and that reach them where they’re at — on social media and new media platforms. At the same time, we can’t just feed into clickbait models where we ignore the real issues. We need to find ways to address issues that matter in a way that is accessible and engaging to young people.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive in the world around them?
I got interested in politics and civics at an early age because I had a middle school teacher who encouraged us to engage in self-inquiry by learning about important political issues and decide what we thought was right. Rather than posing issues as right and wrong, we as journalists and educators should try to paint as vivid a picture as we can of both sides of the issues and the world around us, then let youth decide what they think for themselves.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?
I hope to help my students tell great stories and show them that they have the skills and the talent to be heard on a national platform. SRL has allowed me to motivate my students and offer them amazing opportunities for exposure and tremendous resources to enhance my teaching at our studio. I also hope that in the process of producing our SRL reports, my students will find that spark to pursue their own careers in media and journalism.