SRL Partner Station of the Month: April 2017

SRL Editor Victor Fernandez poses with Alonzo and Tracy Mourning students Samuel Willinger and Chloe Golan and WPBT2 anchor Pam Giganti

WPBT2 South Florida PBS

In a very short amount of time, WPBT2 has become one of our strongest station partnerships. Since first connecting with SRL Editor Victor Fernandez last fall, our Miami-area labs have had opportunities to visit the station, meet and interview crew and talent and even assist with shoots! We asked Director of Production for WPBT2 Melissa Harmon about the station’s relationship with SRL and how they see it developing in the future.

When did your station first become a part of SRL?

We met SRL’s Victor Fernandez in early fall of 2016. He brought over a group of his students to watch our public affairs program, “Issues,” being taped. The students were great — they shadowed the staff in the control room and the host on the set and after the broadcast they asked a ton of questions. The proximity of one of the schools to the station is amazing — they are literally just down the street. The more Victor and I spoke about what SRL was trying to achieve and I talked about the revamp we wanted to undertake with our public affairs programs, the clearer it became that we needed to work together.

We started small. First, the kids were going to cover an event and grab some b-roll for us. It worked out so well, we ended up running a full package instead! So when we launched our new program, “Your South Florida,” in January, we created a segment to feature viewer comments and questions called “Your Take.” The students hit the streets for man on the street-style interviews to get comments and questions about upcoming show topics. They send them to us at the beginning of the week and we work them into the program’s studio interviews. The SRL students receive a reporting credit on the program.  

How has the Student Reporting Labs program benefited your station?  

With limited resources, the students have helped fill a staffing void for us and allow us to feature viewer questions and comments during the weekly broadcast.

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

If we don’t encourage the next generation of producers, who will tell the stories of our communities and our neighbors?  Public media needs to convince young journalists that science, arts and culture are all stories worth reporting — life is more than the Beltway, the Kardashians and YouTube.

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

I would launch a full-blown partnership with the NewsHour to become a Newshour/SRL partner station offering a public media training academy of sorts, where the students are absorbed into our workflow and they get class credit for completing the curriculum.