Village journalism students learn reporting, mushing from pros (+Video)

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Journalism students in the Southwest Alaska got hands-on experience reporting on a quintessential Alaska event last week: The Kuskokwim 300 sled-dog race. The fruits of their labor are high-quality videos sure to delight any mushing fan. 

Vicki Nechodomu, technology education specialist at the Lower Kuskokwim School District, came up with the idea after volunteering at the race last year. She noticed that while print and radio media outlets had a presence at the event, video coverage was lacking. Developing a video-based journalism project for her students allowed students to fill the coverage gap while learning valuable skills, she explained.

High school students enrolled in an online journalism class could sign up for the week-long project. Sixteen students ended up flying in to Bethel from villages across Southwest Alaska, including Chefornak, Mekoryuk, and Quinhagak.

Those students spent the next week working from “morning straight into the evening”, forgoing their weekends. They started by learning the ins and outs of video reporting, from camera angles to preparing interview questions in the days leading up to the race. They interviewed several mushers, including Jeff King, Martin Buser and Pete Kaiser. And they were on the ground, “right up in there with everyone else” when the mushers hit the finish line. King took first place for the ninth time, more than any other musher.

Nechodomu said one of the best parts of the experience was watching how community responded. Mushers and other members of the media “treated our students like professionals,” she said. Nechodomu hopes the school will organize similar programs in the future.

Watch a sample of the students' work below and check out all the videos at their website