Can young people be trained to produce multimedia journalism in just one week? Absolutely, says NPR veteran Doug Mitchell. He should know. He’s done it.
In the mid-1990s, Mitchell launched a project he called Next Generation Radio, organizing boot camps for would-be public radio journalists and helping NPR interns produce stories for Intern Edition. Writing about his experience on Transom.org, Mitchell says what worked best was keeping the groups small, pairing learners with professional mentors, and requiring them to produce a product on deadline.
Can any station groom its own new journalists this way? Yes, Mitchell says, but it takes some investment.
Appoint a leader from the staff and make shepherding an intern program part of their job, NOT in addition to their job, but part of their weekly 40 hours. I can tell you that if you don’t have a staff member with laser focus nurturing the people and the program, it’s going to fail. Second, be sure to choose someone who wants to do it. This may seem obvious, but I’ve heard a few horror stories. Or, if you are the leader, and passionate about it, carve it into your own duties. Seek advice by getting out of the station and talking with others.
Mitchell is now involved in a new online training venture, MoJoCo.org, from the National Black Programming Consortium. It’s good to see he’s still teaching so we can keep learning from him.