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First-year Communications Fellow discusses achievement gap on WUNC

Elon journalism major Emmanuel Tobe ’21 participated this summer in WUNC’s Youth Reporting Institute, an annual program that provides young reporters an opportunity to pitch, report, write and produce radio news stories for North Carolina Public Radio.

It was important to Emmanuel Tobe ’21 that he tell a different story this summer.

As a member of WUNC’s Youth Reporting Institute, journalism major Emmanuel Tobe ’21 investigated the achievement gap this summer. Photos courtesy of WUNC

For the second consecutive year, the Elon journalism major and Communications Fellow participated in WUNC’s Youth Reporting Institute, an annual summer program for young reporters supported by the Triangle’s National Public Radio station.

In 2016, Tobe explored “sneakerhead” culture, where individuals purchase – and often obsess over – exclusive sneakers that cost hundreds of dollars.

While proud of his past work, Tobe made a concerted effort this summer to focus on a more serious topic, and one that reflected his community and his peer group.

“I figured that if I’m going to have this platform, it would be great to shed light on an issue that I’ve seen, and that my friends have seen,” Tobe said. “What I enjoy about this program is it allows younger students, and younger people in general, to get their voices on the radio. It allows us to talk about issues that come up in our community.”

After starting with nearly 25 potential topics, Tobe decided to investigate the achievement gap, the disparity in academic performance between groups of students. He localized the topic by highlighting a group of students at his alma mater, Riverside High School in Durham, and how a new student organization worked to close the gap.

The culmination of Tobe’s summer long reporting project came on Sept. 30 when his nearly four-minute report was aired on WUNC’s “Weekend Edition” program. The radio report, and accompanying byline article, are available on WUNC’s website.

WUNC's 2017 Youth Reporting Institute students stand outside the station’s studios at American Tobacco in downtown Durham.

‚ÄčTitled “Students Open Up Discussions To Close The Achievement Gap,” Tobe’s report featured Riverside’s Black Student Union, which held weekly meetings to engage students in open discussion on race-related topics. As a member of the organization, Tobe provided an insider’s perspective, but his reporting also included comments from fellow black high school students.

“I knew coming into the project I wanted to do something regarding race,” Tobe said. “Once I decided on the achievement gap, we looked at how to tackle it on a local standpoint. That was probably the most difficult part of the project.”

If Tobe seemed comfortable on air, it’s because he’s gotten several reps the past two years. In August, he appeared with two other youth reporters on “The State of Things” with host Frank Stasio.

The first-year student also has extensive experience in other mediums and fields. He’s interned with the Durham Bulls, handled video production and camera work for HighSchoolOT on WRAL.com, and published articles in the Durham Herald Sun. Additionally, he worked for two years as a writer and editor for the Pirate’s Hook, Riverside’s award-winning school newspaper.

“I don’t have a particular niche in terms of broadcast, print and radio, but I really enjoy investigative journalism,” Tobe said. “I enjoy pieces that tell stories and highlight topics that don’t get a lot of coverage, especially minority groups. It’s important to tell stories about people who don’t get the coverage they likely deserve.”

WUNC’s Youth Reporting Institute

Youth radio reporters at the annual Summer Youth Reporting Institute pitch, report, write and produce radio news stories on assignment for possible broadcast on North Carolina Public Radio-WUNC. These young people tell stories about their community in their own voice. The Summer Youth Reporting Institute is located at the WUNC Studios at American Tobacco in downtown Durham. In 2017, seven students participated in the program.

Tommy Kopetskie,
10/9/2017 11:45 AM