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OSU students get hands-on experience participating in multimedia journalism projects.

SMSC students participate in NPR's NextGen Radio Indigenous project

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Media Contact: Elizabeth Gosney | CAS Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-7497 |

This fall, two students from the School of Media and Strategic Communications within the Oklahoma State University College of Arts and Sciences were selected to be a part of NPR’s Next Generation Radio, a five-day audio focused digital media project.

Elena Johnson and Tylie Griffith Bookout published original works for Next Gen Radio Indigenous, highlighting Indigenous and native stories in Oklahoma using the theme, “What is the meaning of ‘Home?’”

“During the experience, I had the opportunity to do my story over Dawna Riding In Hare, who is a friend of mine and an American Indian Studies professor on campus,” Bookout said. “It was truly impactful to hear her story, and to look at old letters and photographs of the family that came before her.”

Riding In Hare's strong connection to her hometown of Pawnee, Oklahoma, is a source of pride and links her to her heritage. The memories and stories of her family have kept her drawn to serving Oklahoma, becoming an educator like her parents.

“Indigenous media and journalism are crucial,” Bookout said. “Giving a voice to everyone is what journalism is for, but using it to amplify the voices of those who aren't heard is what the goal of every journalist should be.”

Johnson interviewed Joshua Wise, a 41-year-old Tulsa Community College student and stay-at-home dad.

“The most impactful experience I had was connecting with my interviewee, Joshua, and hearing his experiences about his religious trauma as a child,” Johnson said. “Hearing him speak about how his grandmother was his sense of safety and a source of Indigenous connection as a child was impactful.”

Both Bookout and Johnson said the program gave them opportunities to advance their journalism and media careers by allowing them to craft stories, work with a mentor and make connections at NPR. 

"Programs like this open a gateway for those looking to find their footing in journalism,” Bookout said. “[It] gives them access to experts in the field that can help them advance their own skills.”

Johnson said programs like Indigenous Next Gen Radio are important for providing hands-on experience, mentors, connections and a supportive community,

“Getting real-world opportunities to craft stories while guided by professionals is invaluable,” Johnson said. 

Bookout and Johnson were selected for the program by OSU alumnus Doug Mitchell, who created Next Gen Radio 23 years ago.

“When we look for applicants for Next Gen Radio, we are not necessarily looking for applicants that are strictly journalism. We want applicants that are open to being experimental,” Mitchell said. “Tylie and Elena were example people. Both showed their practice of being trained multimedia journalists interested in storytelling. Especially in storytelling for Indigenous people.”

Bookout and Johnson’s advice for students who want to follow in their path is simple: be open to hearing perspectives beyond your own.

“I would just like for everyone to listen to those around them,” Bookout said. “There are stories everywhere and in everyone, you just have to be willing to listen.”

Bookout and Johnson’s stories are available on the NPR Next Gen Radio Indigenous Journalists Association website

Story By: Jade Dudley, CAS graduate assistant |

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