SRL Partner Station of the Month: April 2016

PBS SoCal provided invaluable support to their students at Etiwanda and West Ranch High Schools for a piece on Wi-Fi school buses for PBS NewsHour.

Mentor Christine Zirneklis explains why she thinks SRL is important to intellectual growth and how it can go further in teaching students.

How has the Student Reporting Labs program benefited the station?

Student Reporting Labs has provided opportunities to expand the scope of our station’s education work in the Southern California region. Through the American Graduate Initiative, PBS SoCal has partnered with a number of organizations across Southern California to bridge early learning efforts and high school success. Student Reporting Labs has supported this mission with its extensive hands-on support at Etiwanda High School. Working with the program has given us an opportunity to strengthen our relationship teachers and students at Etiwanda, while working towards our American Graduate and community engagement goals. This program has also provided an opportunity for our local news reporter to mentor students and to work in collaboration with PBS NewsHour, resulting in national exposure both for important local stories and for our station.

Why is it important to build the next generation of public media producers and participants?

The unlimited supply of sources for news and information available on the web and through social media has greatly changed the media landscape. Not only do media consumers have limitless choice in terms of what they read and view, but the democratization of content creation means that that everyone can be a reporter. In this changing media landscape of unregulated content, it is more important than ever to give the next generation both the skills to recognize quality, balanced reporting, and internalize the principles of journalistic integrity that will allow them to create impactful content. In order for public media to continue to thrive and serve the American people in the 21st century, it is absolutely vital for students to learn the fundamentals of reporting with integrity. Encouraging students to engage with major issues at an early age helps to build the well-informed and engaged youth population necessary for a healthy democracy.

If we all had limitless resources, how could we make the Student Reporting Labs program in your community even stronger?

In a world of limitless resources, a super-powered Student Reporting Labs program would provide additional hands-on learning experiences for students and teachers. In addition to the opportunities currently offered by SRL, this could include funds to send students on journalism and career-development field trips (e.g. youth journalism conferences, station visits, etc.), as well as funds to provide SRL teachers with additional intensive professional development, especially in learning new technologies to share with their students. Another way to strengthen the program would be to provide additional staff capacity for on-site mentorship. Based on feedback from students from Etiwanda, the experience of having NewsHour professionals on-site to help them on the Coachella story was invaluable. This could also manifest in the form of funding for a dedicated SRL mentor from the local station. SRL could be made even stronger by providing state-of-the art equipment for students and teachers, so that students are prepared and comfortable using equipment that is used in the professional newsroom.