Public radio in the US engages students in podcast production with a challenge

With its inclusive mandate and potential for high reach, public broadcasting has the opportunity to better connect with and involve the public, especially a younger audience.

In the US, National Public Radio (NPR) has done just that and launched Student Podcast Challenge, an initiative – the first in its kind – that gives students and teachers from grades 5-12 the opportunity to produce their own podcast.

Students can pick a topic of their choice, such as specific stories about their community or changes they want to make in the future. Together with teachers they will then produce a podcast of 3 to 12 minutes.

NPR podcast journalists will then visit winning students and teachers, and feature their podcasts on NPR programmes in the spring.

Steps towards media literacy

But it’s not the first time that a public broadcaster has directly connected with schools. Reaching out like this is a way for public broadcasters to put their values into practice, promote media literacy and provide learning support to local communities.

> In the UK, BBC Young Reporter (formerly BBC School Report) works in collaboration with schools, colleges and youth organisations to give 11-18 years-olds the possibility to tell their own stories. Participants receive training and mentoring from BBC journalists to tell their stories on TV, radio, online or social media.

> In the Czech Republic, the public broadcaster Česká Televize organises courses and workshops for teachers and schools with a focus on media and communication. The aim here is to boost media literacy and knowledge on how to navigate the contemporary media space.

> Alternatively, CBC/Radio-Canada offers, a subscription service that allows students, teachers and institutions to access a wide range of content from the public broadcaster to support learning in schools. The Canadian public broadcaster has also launched its CBC Kids News initiative, which places children at the heart of its editorial team.

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Header image: National Public Radio Headquarters in Washington DC. Credits: Ted Eytan/Creative Commons