TAMPA, Fla. — As a part of our commitment to community journalism, our ABC Action News team has visited local schools for two years, coaching students on how news stories are researched and produced through our Scripps News Literacy Project.
In January 2020, our news team worked with a small group of students at Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School in Tampa. Reporter Lauren Rozyla helped these students produce and write a news story about the impact of social media on teenagers.
They first brainstormed ideas and our news team helped them find reputable sources to interview, conduct those interviews at our news station with the help of a photographer and write the story. It eventually aired on ABC Action News.
But just days later, the world changed. There was the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantines, civil unrest over the summer and then the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. This comes as journalists face continued threats across the country.
We caught up with some of those same students again this year to see what they learned from the project and how it has helped shape their futures.
"It's affecting people emotionally and it's important that we all just talk about it,” said Hanna Cileli, who participated in the project last year and is now a senior at Brooks DeBartolo.
We asked how the project helped the students look at issues differently now.
“It really opened my mind to new things and like taking people's input and what it takes to come up with one story,” one student said.
"How do you think this could even help you in college?” Rozyla asked.
"After last year, I learned to broaden and narrow it based on what else is important,” said Thomas Espinoza, a senior at Brooks DeBartolo.
Some students said they are now changing their own career and study plans as a result.
“Before this whole thing with you guys, I wasn't really considering being a journalist,” one student said. “I wanted to be a lawyer. But after learning so much about it that's what I'm applying to college to do, as a journalism and communications major."
Other students talked about how the project helped them learn about different researching techniques and how to find legitimate sources for school projects.