July 28 — 3:32 pm, 2016

Youth News Team members talk about their DNC reporting projects

dnc students Ellen Schoder

By the third day of the Democratic National Convention, members of the Youth News Team – a two-week program at the District’s television station, PSTV – had covered multiple protests, the Hispanic Caucus, and a Youth Council meeting.

“Even though we didn’t get a week of credentials for the Wells Fargo Center to see some of the amazing things happening there, I think we found in some ways a more authentic version of democracy happening on the streets,” said Colin Chrestay, an English teacher at Franklin Learning Center.

Chrestay has been working with a subset of the Youth News Team that includes three students from his school and the Philadelphia High School for Girls. The group is also working with Jenine Pilla, an associate media instructor at WHYY.

“I think that [these experiences have] taught these budding journalists to do some really hard things – to be impartial and to, in some ways, put aside their own political leanings for the sake of fair coverage,” he said.

On Wednesday, these students attended the Hispanic Caucus at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Shayna Allie, a student at the Philadelphia High School for Girls, said that her group had been trying to connect different DNC events to the topic of immigration and that she hoped this caucus would add to their coverage.

During the event, which featured activists and members of Congress, among others, the student journalists said they were busy recording bits of the speeches and thinking about how to craft their story.

“We were trying to listen for people for different aspects on immigration, like education and health care,” said Syreeta Williams, a rising junior at Franklin Learning Center.

Afterward, the students were off to a meeting with the Youth Council. There, the students recorded a discussion about some of the ways that younger people get involved in politics and also heard from U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. They even got the chance to interview Catalina Velasquez, director of Young People For (YP4), a program run by the People for the American Way Foundation. Velazquez participated in the discussion.

The students brainstormed questions, and Pilla offered some suggestions before the interview began. Then they went into the hallway to set up their equipment and asked Velasquez about her experiences as an undocumented person and a transgender woman.

The students were just in the beginning stages of the story-making process. Later that day, they said they were planning to review the recordings and edit them to make their final product.

The group said that they hoped their work would be featured on WHYY or in Metro, two of the partner organizations of the program.

“Doing this journalism program was extremely difficult,” said Mahfuza Chowdhury, a rising senior at the Philadelphia High School for Girls.

“But at the end of the day, it’s also incredibly fun and you get a huge story out of it.”


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