Montclair Journalism Students Spotlight Migrant Crisis On NBCU Academy – Press Room - ǧý University

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Montclair Journalism Students Spotlight Migrant Crisis on NBCU Academy

In preparation for the upcoming election, students look at what Gen Z considers the biggest issues, traveling to a battleground state to report from the U.S.-Mexico border

Posted in: Communication and Media, Homepage News

A student holding a video camera hugs another student in the desert.
First-generation students Jennifer Sanchez, left, and Aylin Alverez-Santiago console each other after an emotional interview at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo courtesy “Arizona Stories”)

As the 2024 presidential race heats up, ǧý University journalism students’ reporting on the migrant crisis is being shared on ’s national platform. Highlighting one of the election’s top issues, these immigration stories showcase the students’ powerful experiences while interviewing aid workers and asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The video, the first of three to be shared on the national NBCU Academy website and Youtube Channel, was produced last spring as part of a multimedia package, “Arizona Stories: Border, Water and Politics.” The series covers the divisive border wall crisis, migrant desert encampments, and , among other topics, produced for the course On the Road: Reporting from the Field. is also published on NBCU Academy.

The upcoming election brings a wealth of opportunities for public-minded students. At Montclair, that includes the School of Communication and Media student-run project, , which this spring zeroed in on what Gen Z considers the biggest issues in the 2024 election. Available to stream on the , the project features deeply reported pieces, interviews with journalists, student roundtables, and an exclusive social media sentiment analysis. The students were guided by NewsLab Coordinator Mark Effron.

This fall, News Producer Steve McCarthy will travel to the battleground state of Pennsylvania with a new On the Road class to report on the presidential election from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia for #FocusDemocracy.

The spring break trip to the Arizona border led by McCarthy and Associate Professor Thomas Franklin encouraged students to reflect on identity and shared history while connecting with their sources.

“Our team knew that reporting about the border would require a lot of care and empathy. We took that role seriously, especially because some of us are the children and grandchildren of immigrants,” writes Dani Mazariegos, a rising senior, in a blog accompanying the report to discuss what students learned on the reporting trip.

A professor standing by a video camera and wearing headphones instructs four students holding photo reflectors over their heads.
Steve McCarthy, news producer for the School of Communication and Media, directs students filming in Arizona. In addition to NBCU Academy, “Arizona Stories: Border, Water and Politics” will stream on the University’s Hawk+ digital platform. (Photo by Thomas E. Franklin)

For two first-generation students, reporting from the border brought up a lot of emotions.

“It was hard being at the border, not only because we were touched by these migrants desperate for a better life on our side of the wall, but because we kept seeing our parents, even though the details of their stories and how they got here were different,” says Aylin Alvarez-Santiago ’24, whose parents came through the Arizona border from a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico. “I called my dad immediately and thanked him for every single bit of sacrifice, for everything he did.”

Jennifer Sanchez, a rising senior, whose family is from Guayaquil, Ecuador, says she had to walk away from an interview at one point because she was so overwhelmed. “I couldn’t hold in my feelings the whole time.”

Their reflections are included in the NBCU Academy’s which highlights original reporting and video by student journalists. Montclair, a Hispanic-Serving Institution, is among the academy’s 45 academic partners that receive funding, resources and development to train future journalists. Students are able to work and learn from NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo professionals.

“I’m very proud of this group of young journalists and content creators,” McCarthy says. “They worked hard to prepare for the trip, distinguished themselves in the field during production, and brought it all together in post-production, producing one of the finest reports we’ve ever done.”

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren.

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