Canyon High student-journalists named to PBS up-and-coming storytellers

Kat Gonzalez and Patrick Hunter report on a piece about cancel culture from a Mike Garcia watch party during the 2020 special election. Photo courtesy of Kat Gonzalez.

Two Canyon High School student-journalists were recently named to a PBS list that includes their choices for the top young storytellers around the nation. 

Kat Gonzalez, 17, was named to the “20 under 20 Up-and-Coming Storytellers” list while Patrick Hunter, 18, was named as one of the eight honorable mentions for the list. 

Compiled through the program “Student Reporting Labs” from PBS, the two were recognized among hundreds of students from across the nation who have worked within the program to create pieces and news stories that had the potential to be aired on national television. 

“I was really honored to be among the top few of those young journalists,” said Gonzalez. “They reached out to me to do some segments here and there, but getting the email that I would be featured on that list and asking for my headshot, I was, like, ‘OK, this is awesome.’”  

“I can’t believe it, out of the many students that tried to get into this position,” said Hunter. “I’m thankful that I got this position, and I’m happy and honored.” 

Gonzalez, who was also named as a 2020 Student Reporting Lab Fellow, profiled punk guitarist William Weinberg about struggling with sobriety at home. She was also featured in “Students adapt to a new way of life as the war on coronavirus shuts down America” and “‘You’re not alone’: How teenagers are dealing with social distancing,” both of which are stories concerning how young people are responding to the pandemic. 

Hunter was featured in a piece concerning how teens are coping with social distancing, and helped produce a piece on how cancel culture affected the youth vote in 2020.

“Everybody has a voice, but in the coming age, young voters have new opportunities, from what they collect on different social media to what they see on TV,” said Hunter, explaining why he thought it was important for there to be young journalists telling stories about the modern youth experience in the United States. 

“It’s so important for young people to be involved in news,” said Gonzalez. “I say a lot to people that I’m so committed to giving the future of America, kids like me, news that pertains to them. Because (news companies) may not want to touch on it, but I think that, regardless …  with everything that’s happening around us there are just such important conversations to be had, such important things to be touched on.”

After having taught both Hunter and Gonzalez in her journalism class since they were freshmen at Canyon, then watched them produce the clips that they had received their nominations for — with the help of both PBS staff and their classmates — the two students’ teacher, Ryanne Meschkat, said she felt like a “proud mom.” 

“I have these students in my class for up to four years. And so I really cultivate and create a family relationship with these students and I am so personally invested in them being successful,” said Meschkat. “So when I first heard that they were being selected, I felt like such a proud mom.”

She added: “I have such mom moments where I feel like my children are succeeding and are being again recognized for such amazingly hard work that they’re doing at such a young age.”

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