A Native American coach reclaiming lacrosse for her community. A young blind student learning to navigate the streets of Minneapolis. A woman who discovers she has epilepsy in a most unusual way.
These remarkable stories about everyday Minnesotans came to life thanks to six college students. They were the latest graduates to come through the ranks of NPR's Next Generation Radio, a weeklong boot camp that for years has helped shape future journalists, especially those from diverse backgrounds.
The ultimate goal of this program, sponsored this fall by MPR News, is to train them for careers in public media — an industry that has a special mission to serve all communities but at times comes up short.
The students arrived in Minneapolis from around the country, and each was paired with a professional journalist. I was lucky to be one of those mentors.
“Next Generation Radio is an intensive project. It's fast paced, straightforward, yet unpredictable and in my case, breathtaking. However, all of us shared the struggle and success of finishing the stories we started with.”Angela Nguyen, Next Gen journalist
The students learned to pitch stories, report and record in the field, mix a piece, blog daily, and help develop a mobile app — all under intense, and sometimes exhilarating, deadline pressure.
But maybe the biggest growth I observed in the students was their self-confidence. As their stories came to fruition, so did their realization that they can do this work. My hope is that if there's anything these aspiring journalists learned from Next Gen, it's that they belong.
Here are the stories, which you can hear this week on MPR News with Tom Weber.