Broadcast Journalism



The summer before sixth grade, at 11 years old, I attended the Gloria Shields NSPA Media Workshop. Instead of tagging along with my mom, the yearbook adviser at my middle school, I enrolled in beginning videography with Jim McCarthy. Armed with an iPad and a borrowed laptop, I learned alongside students who were a minimum of four years older than me, and easily more than a foot taller. 72 hours later, I was hooked.

 Fast forward four years, and I’m the only freshman on my newspaper staff, The Shield, at McCallum High School which meets virtually twice a week because of COVID-19. As a broadcast veteran, I do what I know — pitch video stories. I spent more than a year conducting Zoom interviews and editing subject-submitted b-roll, looking for innovative ways to tell stories to our school community at a time when creativity was a necessity.

The following year, I was excited to return to a sense of normalcy, after being chosen as the online-co-editor-in-chief of The Shield staff, which put me in an opportune position when it came to making videos. Of course, jumping back in had its obstacles like remembering the process of covering events and conducting on-site interviews — but the reward was found in getting to tell stories and working with new people.

In this position, I diversified multimedia coverage on our online website, but even more rewarding — I taught others on staff about broadcast journalism. 

In many of my videos, I worked with another staff member as a mentor to teach them about the technical execution and reporting differences in broadcast journalism. I also gave a presentation to fellow staffers about how to make broadcast stories and worked one-on-one with my peers to help diversify both our coverage of events and talents on staff. 

Of course, this growth wasn’t without a few setbacks. I had to learn to let go of total control. Instead of staying up until 2 a.m. editing footage until the perfectionist in me was satisfied, I had to be OK with letting others take the reigns. 

It wasn’t easy, but it was incredibly gratifying. In November of 2022, I was named NSPA’s National Broadcast Journalist of the Year for my work. I like to think of this as a shared accomplishment, because as my peers learned from me, I learned from them. I’ve become a better editor and a better teacher, two skills I know will continue to benefit me for years to come. 

The samples in this area highlight a collection of my broadcast work — showcasing the evolution of my talents as a broadcast journalist. Use “Click to View” to access each video.


How families can support transgender and nonbinary teens

I produced this story about two transgender teens — Jake Waggoner and Wednesday Gomez — during the 2021 PBS Student Reporting Labs Summer Broadcast Academy. Creating this video allowed me to produce localized coverage during a national debate over trans rights for high school students as it was playing out in the Texas legislature. This story gave visibility to Jake and Wednesday’s experiences, showcased how families can support trans youth and provided a face to a heavily politicized issue. A version of this story was later featured on PBS News Hour.

Recognitions: First place – video feature package, CSPA Gold Circle (2022); First place – documentary video, Quill and Scroll Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest (2022); Second place broadcast news story, NSPA Clips and Clicks (fall 2021); Third place – broadcast feature, NSPA Broadcast Story of the Year (2022); “Top 15 Stories By and For Teens You May Have Missed”, PBS SRL (2021); Part of my First place – Broadcast Journalist of the Year portfolio, NSPA Individual Awards (2022)

A New Normal for Elementary Students

During the middle of the second semester of my sophomore year, I felt a slump in both my academic performance and my work on staff. I credited it to my first full year back at school, which got me wondering: How are younger kids adjusting to school? To find out, I interviewed a family from my former elementary school about their post-lockdown learning experience. I also interviewed the school’s principal, to focus on a niche subject that still resonated with many students and parents. It can be challenging to maintain audience engagement on a story that focuses on the experiences of students who do not attend our school, so I made sure to craft a narrative that would be recognizable even to the high school students in the McCallum community.

Recognitions: Superior – broadcast news story, TAJE (2023); Superior – video news story, TAJE Fall Fiesta (2023); First place – digital storytelling, SIPA Best Visual Competition (2022); Part of my First place – Broadcast Journalist of the Year portfolio, NSPA Individual Awards (2022)

Mac Takes pink week pep rally outside

This video commemorated the first pep rally at McCallum since the pandemic started in 2020 and marked my first live event coverage in almost two years. It reminded me of how challenging it can be to rely solely on b-roll from one event, instead of being able to revisit locations to get additional footage in the event of poor video quality or when there weren’t enough shots. As I continued to uncover aspects of broadcast that were lost during my time in online school, I gained an appreciation for on-location journalism.

Recognitions: Second place – video news package, Quill and Scroll Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest (2022); Excellent – broadcast news story, TAJE (2022); Part of my First place – Broadcast Journalist of the Year portfolio, NSPA Individual Awards (2022)

Unmatched determination

There’s always interesting characters with stories to tell on any school campus. So when I heard about the lone female student on the McCallum wrestling team who was also on track to compete at the state competition for a second year in a row, I knew I had to meet her. Despite having an array of what I viewed as extremely impressive accomplishments, London did not talk much about herself in our interview. You see, London’s story was one of unmatched determination — determination to succeed, but also to see her team’s success. Even though wrestling is largely an individual sport, London spent as much of her time training as she did on building a team spirit. This broadcast package strengthened my interviewing skills and taught me get to the heart of a story.

Recognitions: Superior – broadcast sports story, TAJE (2022)

Thank God it’s Friday

This was the first video I created during the 2021-22 school year, starring two of my most personable subjects yet, Ben Polega and his service dog, Friday. Ben’s story reminded me of why I love journalism — it allows me to tell stories about people who do amazing things, people who have persevered through life’s challenges. My skills as a reporter were reinvigorated in this piece, but even more importantly, my skills as an in-person broadcast journalist. Since this was my first broadcast story in my newly appointed leadership role, I took the opportunity to train my co-online-editor-in-chief, Lucy Marco on the basics of creating a broadcast package. While I wanted to expand my own broadcast skills, it was more important to me to build a broadcast program within the Shield Online to better reach our school community with video storytelling. And that started with training my fellow staffers.

Recognitions: First place – broadcast feature story, NSPA Best of Show (2021); Superior – video feature story, TAJE Fall Fiesta (2022); First place – video story, ILPC (2022); Part of my First place – Broadcast Journalist of the Year portfolio, NSPA Individual Awards (2022)

Coffeehouse Makes a Comeback

This story covered the return of a favorite McCallum tradition — Coffeehouse — an in-school performance venue where students perform original songs, poetry and other written works. I worked with two other staff members, to teach them how to write and record voiceovers, as well as how to shoot b-roll. Because I was able to share more responsibilities with my peers, my primary role was as editor, which allowed me to focus on a specific set of skills and experiment with new techniques and timing, while at the same time still helping others on staff to build their broadcast skills. Even though I was confident with my broadcast skills, it was sometimes intimidating to be the one teaching senior EICs how to make a package, including Samantha Powers, who created the voiceover for this segment.

Recognitions: Third place – video feature package, Quill and Scroll Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest (2022); Excellent – broadcast feature story, TAJE (2022); Part of my First place – Broadcast Journalist of the Year portfolio, NSPA Individual Awards (2022)

McCallum: 70 Years Later

2023 was the 70 year anniversary of McCallum’s opening, which brought the opportunity for coverage of how the school has changed. Because of Austin’s rich history, I was able to be connected not only with McCallum Alum Maggie Slocum, who was part of the school’s first freshman class, but also 99-year-old Carl Shepherd who worked on the construction team for the original school building. I paired these sources, who gave a look into McCallum’s past with the perspective of Dance Director Natalie Uehara, who spoke about the current construction work on McCallum that will become the new dance building, to show what’s in store for McCallum’s future. Because this story had so much information about the past, I went a step further by spending an afternoon at the Austin History Center looking through primary sources like yearbooks, programs and other memorabilia, scanning images that could be featured in the story. This taught me the value of news gathering beyond just interviews and sourcing.

Recognitions: Honorable mention – video feature story, TAJE Fall Fiesta (2023)

KBTV Highlight Reel

While this portfolio focuses on my work on The Shield staff, this category offers an opportunity to highlight my growth by showing where my love of journalism began — the KBTV broadcast news staff at my middle school. After attending the Gloria Shields NSPA Media Workshop as an incoming sixth grader in beginning broadcast from Jim McCarthy, I decided to join KBTV staff which served as my foundation in journalism. Although it was only middle school, KBTV allowed me to gain experience on screen, behind the camera and as a leader, which was part of the natural evolution into my various roles in MacJ. This short reel showcases the roles I held on the staff — from reporter to anchor to station manager, featuring some of my first on-camera work, my videography and editing of our program intro and a sports broadcast package.

Recognitions: Broadcast Pacemaker, NSPA (2019, 2020)


The five stages of grief – an eating disorder recovery story

One of the PBS SRL producers who was familiar with my eating disorder recovery story reached out to me for the On Our Minds podcast, a program about teenage mental health, and asked if I would be interested in creating a segment. My immediate thought was no. No way. It was too personal. But as I considered the proposition, I realized that was the exact reason why my story needed to be told. Anorexia is the mental health disorder with the highest mortality rate and is most prevalent among people aged 13-19. I agreed to make the segment and tell it in the format of the five stages of grief. Because for me, giving up my eating disorder after three years for recovery was like losing a part of myself, even it was for the best. My goal for this segment was to normalize the complex feelings that accompany the recovery process, and show others who might also be suffering that those feelings are OK. And hopefully, my story showed others that recovery is possible, no matter how daunting the task may seem. If my story helped even one person decide to recover, it will have been worth it.

Recognitions: “Top Student Stories You Missed”, PBS SRL (2022)

Interview with Influencer, Ro Mitchell

As I was working on my segment for On Our Minds, the producers decided they wanted the whole episode to be focused on the eating disorder recovery process. To help round out the coverage for this episode, they asked me if I would interview British social media influencer Ro Mitchell, who uses her platform to share about her eating disorder recovery process. I decided to focus the interview on the social media side of the work she does, because for better or worse, social media influences us all. I wanted to get Ro’s opinion on how social media both negatively and positively influences people’s thoughts body image and food, as Ro’s work was specifically focused on influencing teens to discover more body positive messaging. This piece showed another side of the eating disorder recovery story and helped include another perspective on a complex issue.

Recognitions: “Top Student Stories You Missed”, PBS SRL (2022)


The High School Experience: Interviews for Jostens Renaissance

Last spring, I worked on a project for Jostens Renaissance – a program that focuses on school culture – that was meant to show the high school experience from students at the beginning and end of their high school career. Even though I was given a list of questions to ask students on my campus, I had a lot of freedom with asking follow-ups and selecting interview subjects. I quickly got to work on this project, which was somewhat of a dream assignment for me — interviewing being my favorite aspect of journalism. I took a very conversational approach to my interviews, which I think is what led to the wide array of authentic responses I received. I also worked to find people from different extracurriculars and school groups to make sure I included a variety of diverse student voices. When my interviews were tested by a market audience, the videos received some of Jostens’ highest ratings to date because of my efforts to accurately represent high school students. This is a short reel of some of my favorite responses from these interviews.

Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi on Asian American representation in sports

When MacJournalism was invited to attend South by Southwest with PBS Student Reporting Labs, we are also informed of interviews that SRL would be conducting that they needed student reporters for. I was chosen to interview Olympic figure skater and children’s literature author Kristi Yamaguchi. For this project, I wrote questions and conducted the interview, but I also did the backend production work of organizing her responses into a script with an overarching narrative, finding B-roll and photos to include in the package and editing the segment together. This helped tell a story about Asian-American representation in sports, a somewhat untold story that Yamaguchi helped pave the way for as the first Asian-American to win a gold medal in a Winter Olympic competition.

Final thoughts

I’m not sure how, at a school without a broadcast program, I’ve managed to produce such a comprehensive portfolio. And while my program eventually raised the funds for some new equipment, most of my broadcast work was shot on my iPhone and with the aid of a ring light, lapel mic and tripod that I got for free at a summer camp. I think it just goes to show that while a broadcast package benefits from high production value, ultimately a quality broadcast package requires creativity and storytelling — the ability to find the characters within your school who have a unique story to tell.

It’s no surprise that this has become my broadcast philosophy. After all, for the past 8 years, I’ve been taught by countless journalism advisers and professionals that all you have to do is listen, and people will tell you the story themselves. 

And I have learned that these stories, time and time again, have added meaning in the broadcast format because people connect with video in a way that’s different from the written word. Broadcast packages evoke sensory feelings like hearing and sight that make an audience relate to the story more. There’s a lot of value in creating work that connects human beings to other human beings in a world where there is so much disconnection.

Recognitions: First place – Broadcast Journalist of the Year, NSPA Individual Awards (2022)