How Can Journalism Strengthen a Community? A Hands-On Exploration in Sacramento and the Bay Area

Shared trust is not just an outcome to good journalism, it is also a key part of the process of reporting. In order to develop shared trust with the communities journalists serve, they must work on cultivating relationships within that community.

Through expert meetings with a wide range of journalists and content producers in Sacramento and the Bay Area, our high school Journalism Intensive students recently gained a deeper understanding of the ways in which professional journalists and storytellers connect with communities. During the 5 day / 4 night fieldwork experience, students learned how a deeply collaborative reporting process can help strengthen those connections and ultimately the communities they are serving.

Each of the experts they met with helped the students in pitching story ideas to publications, preparing for interviews, conducting interviews, and turning interview transcripts and story outlines into cohesive articles that are aligned with the communities they are seeking to serve. Here’s a quick overview of each expert the students met with and some reflections from each.

Brian Hickey from KCRA News

Brian took us on an exterior tour of the KCRA studio and showed us the satellite truck, the microwave truck (smaller than a satellite, but it still had to extend 40+ feet in the air) and lastly the 5G backpack. He shared some of his stories with us from the Caldor fire, a World Cup ski race he covered, and some other difficult stories.

Student reflections

“This interview with Brian was my first ever TEA meeting with an expert. I didn’t really go into it with any expectations, but coming out of it, I was so shocked with all the new information I had learned. This meeting to me was very beneficial in him showing us tips to conduct interviews; using some sort of microphone, it establishes a sense of “power” over the person being interviewed, to get rid of the fear of just talking to another peer. He taught us many tips and tricks to doing interviews and how the backend of reporting works. He shared amazing stories of skiing and adventures, and it was a very interesting first meeting for me.”

Rob Carlmark from ABC10

We met Rob at a park in Sacramento. Rob is a weather reporter and shared how he developed a passion for weather (he loves to ski and surf). He also shared his experience in covering the Caldor fire, as well as the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA.

Student reflections

“I would describe the meeting with Rob Carlmark as emotionally educational. He really cared about the people he was reporting on and about and the way he explained the support system that him and his co workers have created so as not to get overwhelmed by all of the heavy topics was really cool to hear about, and I feel like we can take that and adapt it to our newspaper/environment.“

Kyle Decker / Founder & Owner of The Bureau

Kyle is a ski film producer, and we watched one of his most recent ski films the night before our meeting. We connected with Kyle at a park near a redwood forest. Kyle told us about how he developed a passion for ski filmmaking and the importance of developing relationships with the athletes he works with. We came prepared with some questions that Kyle had a hard time answering around inclusivity, belonging and cultural responsibility. He also showed us some of his tools including his RED camera and his camera drone.

Student reflections

“Film producers are sick. Kyle was absolutely rad to talk to. I wasn’t aware of the fragile nature of skiers and the behind the scenes of filming. On that note, it actually seems pretty difficult emotionally, from the cold, long nights to the pain of watching someone get really hurt. I’m pretty sure we made him think and he’ll work towards making the ski industry more inclusive, which is awesome.“

Andy Altmant with CNET and Mariel Myers with ABC/Disney

On our last full day we met with Andy from CNET and Mariel from ABC/Disney. They presented to us together and had a “run down” of their presentation, offered some great advice on the journalistic process (finding people to interview, building trust with them, asking good questions). In addition both Andy and Mariel asked a lot of questions themselves, as they wanted to know how our students were getting their news information.

Student reflections

“This was probably the most interesting to me because I have watched CNET for a while and it was cool to see behind the scenes. It was also cool how Andy’s favorite thing was that he gets to travel places and produce things. Mariel was interesting too because she said that businesses have to change to survive because we need to be more inclusive. I was also amazed that their Bosses do not really know how we consume news and that they are very interested because they want to cater more to the young generation. I mainly had fun because the conversation felt more natural which made it fun to talk to them.”