SRL Station Success: October 2017

WTCI producers with students from Dalton Middle School during a field trip to the Chattanooga Zoo for SRL’s STEM Problem Solvers assignment

SRL Connected Educator Gina Gray reached out to WTCI Chattanooga at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, on a mission to provide her students with real mentorship opportunities that would strengthen their learning and understanding of journalism as a profession. Gray and Shaun Townley, WTCI’s Vice President of Content and Digital Strategy, instantly clicked, and ever since, have been working together to guide Gray’s students through the process of media creation.

When did your station first become a part of SRL?

I spoke on the phone to Gina Gray, the teacher heading up the Dalton Middle School Student Reporting Lab, back in August of this year. She asked if we would be interested in partnering with the school as a mentor station. Our team was excited to have the opportunity to work with students who are passionate about journalism and storytelling. Almost instantly, we had a chance to meet and work with the students during a field trip to Chattanooga Zoo as they interviewed staff about their careers. We’re starting to receive rough cuts from students so we can offer feedback on what they’ve done so far.

How has the Student Reporting Labs program benefited the station?

Our broadcast signal serves 35 counties across four states, and I think oftentimes because we’re based in Chattanooga, communities in northwest Georgia don’t always feel a connection to the work we do. We’re hoping to host an event at the end of the school year so that the Dalton community can celebrate some of the excellent work that’s being done by these students, while at the same time learning more about the work and mission of WTCI.

When Gina first came out to the station to meet with our team, we talked about the work the students are doing, and how it relates to what we do in public media. We talked about how we can best serve as mentors, but we also talked equipment, workflow, & subject matter. I’m a big believer in learning from every experience, and I’m convinced our production team will get as much out of this as the students will.

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

Media literacy is more important than ever. I’m forty years old. My kids are seven and eleven and they’re already creating content and they take for granted that they have the ability to share it with the world. They don’t even think about it. It’s a huge shift in the way we communicate and we haven’t given enough thought to how young people create and interact with content of all kinds.

Kids need to understand the goals of journalism, the media’s rights and responsibilities, and their role in protecting the values and institutions that we rely on in this country. Student Reporting Labs is a great leap forward in media literacy education.

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

Imagine if every school acknowledged the importance of media literacy and content creation and distribution the way Dalton Middle School does. A generation of students could benefit from this program, and every PBS station in the country can play a role in that important work.