ThreeSixty Journalism summer camps aim to increase diversity within media

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Jaydin Fairbanks and Isaac Santino Garcia are regular camp-goers. They attend ThreeSixty Journalism’s various camps, including the podcast camp and the news reporter academy.

They were there this year to create a news story for television. Fairbanks and Santino-Garcia explored the topic of Native American Boarding Schools in their video.

These topics need to be more covered, Santino Garcia, Cretin Derham High School’s incoming junior, stated. The best way to tell stories of different communities is to involve them and have them lead the process.


Emphasis on Diversity

According to the Pew Research Centre, newsroom workers are more likely than U.S. workers to be whiter and more male than overall. In fact, more than three quarters (77%) are white. ThreeSixty Journalism is a partnership with the University of St. Thomas for over 20 years. Their mission is to transform the way newsrooms look and tell new stories.

Santino-Garcia is Lower Sioux Dakota, White Earth Ojibwe and half Mexican. He believes ThreeSixty puts marginalized voices and underrepresented voices first.

He said, “Every story I have seen or heard (in the program), has been about somebody other than Caucasian and a tale that might not be told often.”

Samantha HoangLong was an alumnus of the program. Being surrounded by children of color was an uplifting experience.

She said, “It was like the very first space to be that young with a full class of young journalists of color.” “I felt really fortunate to be in a class that was full of diversity at such a young age.”


How can you increase newsroom diversity

Chad Caruthers is the executive director of the journalism program. He said that part of diversity in newsrooms is to create “incentive.” ThreeSixty provides stipends for the time and effort of participants.

Fairbanks, who will be a senior at Osseo High school, stated that it was the only reason I attended at first.

People from all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate in the stipend without having to lose income for a few weeks.

“Students get older in highschool, and they work harder, they have to support their families, and they have to support themselves, whatever that may be. Caruthers stated that students don’t work during a summer program that is a week or two weeks at St. Thomas. “If they don’t have extra money, we hope it replaces any income they might lose by joining us.”


New Beginnings

Some kids are now considering a career in journalism or other media because of this program. Santino-Garcia plans to attend St. Thomas where ThreeSixty offers four-year scholarships.

Santino-Garcia stated, “I enjoy learning new things and journalism gives me an excellent life experience that you might not learn from other places.” It fascinates me because it allows me to tell stories of people that have never been told.

Samantha HoangLong

HoangLong graduated high school in 2017 after having attended many ThreeSixty camps including the television broadcast camp. In 2016, she began the college essay bootcamp, which ignited her passion for writing. It was so enjoyable that she decided to change her career path.

“I wanted to be a dentist long before I was able to apply for college. It was almost like I applied to college with biochemistry and biology, and was eager to attend dental school. She said that she did the camp. “I discovered that it is possible to talk to people and learn about their lives. That was something I found really interesting, so I just kept going.

After high school she interned at ThreeSixty Journalism, where she learned more about video production. She was awarded a four year scholarship by ThreeSixty to study journalism and communication at St. Thomas.

The most recent camp saw Bob Santos, Fox 9, and Jeff Wagner, WCCO teach the students how they speak on air and how structure a story. HoangLong stated that another component of the program was to tour a newsroom.

HoangLong enjoyed seeing the behind-the scenes of a newsroom.

She said, “I believe that having that experience right away after high school gave my an advanced view of what it would be like if I worked that job.” “It was amazing to be able access the newsrooms and walk through them. This is what inspired me to get into broadcast television.

After graduating from college, she was an intern at Fox 9 and continued her work there. She is now a member of the audience at Sahan Journal.


Program participants

ThreeSixty not only recruits potential participants, but also works with schools to identify the right students for the program. The program offers workshops in seasonal journalism throughout the year, and a week-long camp during the summer.

Caruthers stated that students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch pay no for the program. However, there is flexibility for those with other income levels. The organization strives to have 80% of its members qualify for free or reduced lunch.

However, the pandemic reduced this number to between 50-75 percent.

Caruthers stated that it was more difficult to reach students during the pandemic. You can see all the gaps in education, health disparities and other issues that we hear so much about. Technology gaps are a major problem, but that’s only part of the story. We had to make everything virtual. Unfortunately, not all students have the same access to the technology.

Caruthers stated that roughly 10% of participants pay for the event. The Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield is funding the projects and helping with the topics. Blue Cross Blue Shield sponsors the MinnPost Race and Health Equity fellowship, but does not have any editorial control over content.

ThreeSixty alumni have gone on to work as newsroom reporters in the state. Caruthers stated that some alumni work at the Star Tribune and Fox 9, Sahan Journal and MPR among other places.

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