As a Northwestern University J-school alum and the creator of The Huffington Post’s newsroom-wide editorial training program, I have extensive experience at the intersection of media and education. I believe there are opportunities to improve the current system, so I created a program that aims to address those in the most radical way possible: a media lab in the middle of the jungle.
The Kalu Yala Media Lab is a living laboratory in Panama where journalism and storytelling interns, under the mentorship of media professionals, tell solutions-oriented stories about sustainability. The "learn by doing" curriculum includes workshops, field trips to newsrooms and environmental organizations throughout the country, discussion sections, guest speakers, and a robust reading list. During their tenure, interns produce their own portfolio of written, audio and visual stories, and they're encouraged to experiment with cutting-edge formats. The 10-week program takes place at both Kalu Yala, a sustainable research institute in Panama's Tres Brazos jungle valley, and in Panama City, located an hour west.
I spend nine months developing the curriculum, building out the program, and leading the inaugural class of interns. I've since passed the program on to Kalu Yala's more permanent staff, but I remain a consultant and a member of their media advisory board. I'm also in the process of developing short-term reporting trips for journalism students that focus on sustainability in Panama. My first trip takes place with environmental journalism students from Northwestern University in March 2017.