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Students get hands-on experience at the Andy Harvey Indigenous Youth Media Workshop

Kyler Edsitty

Since 2012, The Andy Harvey Indigenous Youth Media Workshop has been an annual opportunity for young Indigenous people to learn about broadcast media and journalism. Andy Harvey, the late NAU alumnus and reporter at KPNX 12 in Phoenix, wanted to ensure future generations learned about storytelling, and this workshop is the perfect place for students to do so.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has stunted many events, this workshop continues in person while catering to others learning from a distance by providing online lessons. Despite being canceled last year, the workshop takes on a hybrid approach.

Held on the Northern Arizona University campus from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7, high schoolers all around Arizona are invited to participate in the week-long program organized by NAU instructors. Here they learn about journalistic guidelines and how to use broadcast equipment. They used this knowledge by creating news broadcasts presented at the end of the program, which included stories like flooding in Flagstaff and local sustainability initiatives.

Many guest speakers were invited to share lessons and experiences about journalism and the communications field throughout the program.

Melissa Begay, Operations Director for Native Public Media, provided lessons on First Amendment Protectors, which provides a deep dive into free speech and press freedom. It also covered how these rights have been violated, especially for Indigenous people.

"In the past few years, more Native youth are reporting on Indigenous issues and topics. The First Amendment Protectors curriculum provides Native youth the awareness about their First Amendment rights," Begay said. "As a trainer, I enjoy the dialogue and interaction with students about journalism, native communities and the importance of telling our stories in our words all while exercising their rights and free speech."

From all around Arizona, people working in the media field came together in a panel to give the students career advice and insight on their fields. Among these speakers were President and CEO of the Arizona Broadcast Association Chris Kline and NAU graduates.

NAU instructor Rachel Cox has been a part of the workshop as the lead instructor and assistant director for several years and was initially drawn to it because she said it is her passion. After developing the media and arts program at STAR School in Leupp, this workshop was an excellent fit for her.

Cox said the workshop is beneficial because it allows students to understand how the media they consume is made and how they can participate in that process.

"They can put out the stories and put out their opinions," Cox said. "You don't have to wait on somebody from the outside world to report on something important to you."

As the workshop and Andy Harvey's mission continue, it will allow young Indigenous people to find their passion and grow their skills while taking charge of storytelling in their communities.


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