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June 26, 2017

Advanced Reporting class at JCCC pairs students with producers and reporters at Kansas City Public Television.

Like many young people, Rebekah Lodos arrived at Johnson County Community College weighing her career options.

She was interested in writing, current events and culture. So, she thought, maybe journalism. But she wasn’t sure.

“I was afraid that I could like a subject in school but not in real life,” Lodos said. “In school, you don’t get the feel that you would have in the real world.”

Then boom!

Lodos learned about an Advanced Reporting class at JCCC that paired students with producers and reporters at Kansas City Public Television, Kansas City PBS.

'Real life' experience does matter

“It was good to come into a high-stakes, fast-paced, real life kind of thing,” Lodos said. “When you are producing a story that will run that people will see, you feel a responsibility to tell that story accurately. And you feel a responsibility in doing justice to the people you are interviewing. So having that pressure – I thought it was exhilarating.”

JCCC journalism professors Mark Raduziner and Gretchen Thum began working with The Hale Center for Journalism soon after it opened at KCPT in 2013. Their students in Advanced Reporting and Promotional Writing work with the staff at the Hale Center to come up with strong story ideas and produce stories, photographs and videos.

“Our whole goal with our advanced students is to introduce them to real-world journalism and industry mentors,” said Raduziner, chair of the JCCC journalism program.

The partnership also is good for KCPT, said Carla McCabe, Senior Vice President for Digital and Multimedia.

“In the past few years, students at JCCC have consistently brought fresh perspectives to our projects and working with them this last semester was no different,” McCabe said. “Together we worked through their assignment that would become part of our Take Note education project, which meant we were able to increase the depth of our storytelling.”

'Amazing partners' to work with

Thum, an assistant professor who leads the Promotional Writing class, said her students love to go to KCPT and get the tour. “The people there have been amazing partners for us,” Thum said.

KCPT published Lodos’ story “Foreign-born and Hopeful” in March. It chronicles the fears and hopes of a brother and sister who began their lives in Ethiopia and eventually became students in the Shawnee Mission School District. The story was part of a KCPT project called Take Note: Our City. Our Schools. Our Future.

Lodos said she thinks she interviewed the subjects of her story about three times.

“And I spent hours transcribing the tape to find the thread of the story,” she said. “It was a lot of work but I enjoyed every minute of it.”

The students who participate in the partnership have strong portfolios by the time they are ready to transfer to a four-year college or university, Raduziner said.

So what is next for Lodos? She will be studying journalism beginning this fall on a full-ride scholarship at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.