Elon News Network welcomes Burlington-Graham Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc.

Members of the student-run news organization helped the Jack & Jill students produce their own broadcast pieces highlighting prominent Black journalists.

A group of Elon students and Alamance County youth pose behind the Elon studio desk.
Accompanied by Associate Professor Rich Landesberg, members of Elon News Network pose for a photograph with youngsters from the Burlington-Graham Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. The children visited campus on Feb. 17 and – with assistance from ENN staff members – produced broadcast pieces highlighting prominent Black journalists. Photo courtesy of Ethan Wu.

On a daily basis the Jane and Brian Williams Studio serves as an educational setting for School of Communications students as they learn the ins and outs of broadcast and television production. In February, members of Elon News Network flipped the script and became educators themselves, welcoming a group of youngsters from the Burlington-Graham Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc.

Abby Gravely points while standing behind the Elon anchor desk.
Journalism major Abby Gravely ’27 (right) offers instructions to a young student prepping at the studio anchor desk. Photo courtesy of Ethan Wu.

During the Feb. 17 visit, ENN members offered the visiting students, ages 6 to 15, behind-the-scenes access to the school’s studios and control rooms to explore the world of broadcasting and learn about the significant contributions of Black journalists to the news industry. As part of the visit, the ENN staffers helped the Jack & Jill students produce their own broadcast pieces highlighting notable Black journalists, including Ida B. Wells, Belva Davis and Max Robinson.

The campus visit and broadcasting exercise squarely fit the Alamance County chapter’s mission to provide children and teens with experiences that promote cultural awareness, educational development, health advocacy, legislative advocacy, and social/recreational activities.

Crystal Wilson, president of the Burlington-Graham chapter, helped facilitate the visit – an idea she traced back to her own experiences in the news industry. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, Wilson completed an internship with a news station. And she said she hoped the recent visit to campus would help the youngsters understand the importance of representation in the media.

Two males sit in the Elon News Network control room.
Journalism major Ryan Kupperman ’25 (left), managing editor of ElonNewsNetwork.com, helps a young student in the control room in McEwen Communications Building. Photo courtesy of Ethan Wu.

Wilson proudly recounted her own daughter’s preparation for the broadcasting exercise spotlighting prominent newsmakers. “She researched her project herself and practiced in front of me and my husband maybe 20 different times because she wanted to make sure she had it perfect,” she said.

And everyone got their moment behind the anchor desk as the children took turns presenting their findings on a pioneering journalist.

Associate Professor of Journalism Rich Landesberg explained that the experience was beneficial for both ENN members and the Jack & Jill chapter.

“In the medical field there’s something called ‘see one, do one, teach one,’” Landesberg said. “My students had certainly seen it. They went to classes. They certainly do it because they’re doing ‘Elon Local News.’ But they don’t always get a chance to teach. I saw them getting better at their craft because they had to explain it to children in a way that made sense.”

A young Black girl looks back while working a studio camera.
A young student from the Burlington-Graham Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. prepares to run a studio camera during the organization’s visit to campus. Photo courtesy of Ethan Wu.

Landesberg said the mentorship opportunity was a great reminder that being a journalist is not just about reporting, but also about “being active in your community and helping your community,” he added.

Erin Martin ’24, design chief for Elon News Network, also enjoyed the opportunity to work with the school-aged children, helping their presentations come to life on the digital screens in the studio.

“Training these young kids was really great because they have these young eyes and they’re just astonished by everything that they’re looking at,” said the computer science major and communications minor.

Wilson thanked the ENN students for their patience and kindness, and she hopes there will be future opportunities to partner with Elon students – both in the School of Communications and across campus.

“It spoke volumes that there were students who wanted to volunteer,” she said.