Journalism students celebrate culture through student newsrooms and fellowships in Miami

Karina Gonzalez and Jarrette Werk share stories of Latino and indigenous people at national conferences

Jarrette Werk (left) and Karina Gonzalez attended the NAJA and NAHJ conferences in Miami last month.

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8/3/2018 | By: Adrianna Owens |

Last month, Reynolds students Karina Gonzalez and Jarrette Werk both attended conferences in Miami, Florida. Gonzalez was selected for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) Student Project, while Werk was selected as a journalism fellow and newsroom leader with the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA).

Werk, who attended the NAJA conference last year in Anaheim, was a second-year fellow in Miami this year. While at the conference, he took over the Reynolds School Instagram story and gave students an inside look at the NAJA newsroom.  

The NAJA fellows produced stories and learned about mobile reporting, all while meeting media professionals in the field. Werk regards his trip as the highlight of his summer and the starting-point on his storytelling path.

"My focus is indigenous reporting," Werk said. "Being able to meet all these people from across Indian Country doing the type of things that I want to do, lets me know that it's possible to do exactly what you love."

The NAJA conference helped Werk see the opportunities with indigenous reporting and pushed him to develop a further interest in multimedia reporting.

"The conference really opened my eyes to all the issues that aren't being covered and all the issues that can be covered throughout America," he said. "I need to push myself to do more multimedia stories and share the issues that aren't being shared."

Werk is currently a part of the first cohort of Generation Indigenous where he can make his dream of telling more multimedia stories a reality and amplifying the native youth voice.

"Something that I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid is going around America and highlighting influential native youth and using my platform to reclaim the native narrative," he said. "Because far too often indigenous people have been in front of the lens but have never been behind the lens. We haven't been able to share who we are through our own perspective."

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While at the conference, Werk won three awards at the 2018 Native American Journalists Media Awards: first place for Best Feature Photo, second place for Best Sports Story and honorable mention for Best News Story.

Meanwhile, in Gonzalez's newsroom at the NAHJ conference, the student journalists were busy producing three stories under deadline with mentors in the field. Gonzalez produced stories about a NAHJ mentor driving from Houston to Miami for the conference, a Los Angeles Times reporter being chastised for speaking Spanish to her daughter and a Cuban dancer and recording artist working in Miami.

"I got the full-on newsroom experience," Gonzalez said. "This was crunch time since I didn't have a lot of time to produce these stories. It was definitely overwhelming, exhausting but so rewarding."

As career expos and workshops were going on at the conference, Gonzalez was furiously typing, editing her mini-documentary and reporting out in the field. Although she didn't get a chance to walk around the career expo booths, she didn't miss her shot at networking, since recruiters from publications such as the Washington Post and AP came into the newsroom.

"I knew I wouldn't have time to go to all the booths and socialize," she said. "I was there to work and I took advantage of that opportunity."

Getting this newsroom experience and sharing stories that promoted the Latino voice helped Gonzalez realize her calling.

"I could see myself in a newsroom in the future," she said. "I don't know if it'll be for print or a digital network, but I see myself doing video reporting and bilingual reporting, and the conference really confirmed that."

Before attending the conference, Gonzalez wasn't sure if she'd be selected. After attending the conference, she has a new-found confidence and outlook on applying to other programs and opportunities and urges young journalists to follow her lead.  

"What I want people to take away from my experience is to not be afraid to apply for these kinds of opportunities," she said. "I didn't think that I would get it, but I did. Don't doubt yourself. Don't doubt your skill level. You're good enough for these kinds of things."

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