Recently completing its third year, the Homegrown Fellowship provided eight students out of over forty applicants with the opportunity to work with professional producers on video journalism projects from February to May. While some had prior journalism experience, many came to the program with different media-making interests like film-making and podcasting, eager to learn more about creating a different kind of content. All brought a passion for storytelling.
The fellowship is designed to provide real-world learning opportunities for students to hone their skills, work directly with professional journalists and media-makers and develop pieces that reflect their interests and communities. This year’s fellows set out to create profiles on first-time voters, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit, plans shifted. Students completed a piece on local teen friends on opposite sides of the political spectrum, finishing the editing process remotely. Then, as a full cohort, they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by producing “Alone Together,” a mini documentary on teens living under quarantine. Fellows used their phones to capture footage of their own experiences and wove them together to create a picture of “connected isolation.” The piece aired digitally on Student Reporting Labs’ social media platforms, and it was shared with the DC community more broadly by local public media station WETA, which posted natively on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The fellows also experimented with form through a series of TikTok videos featuring strategies for managing mental health during a time of isolation and listlessness.
This work and the fellowship as a whole was highlighted in a special virtual screening that celebrated fellows and their perseverance in completing their commitment despite challenges and changes. You can watch a recording of the event by visiting the project link.