Connections Make All the Difference in the Media World


By FSM Communications

From the newsrooms of NBC Channel 5, ABC Channel 7, and WGN Channel 9 to WTTW Channel 11, Harpo Studios, and media outlets throughout the Chicago area, Free Spirit Media students are climbing their way up in the media world.

 FSM students Bianca Bryant and Helen Block meet WGN Morning News anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten.

FSM students Bianca Bryant and Helen Block meet WGN Morning News anchors Larry Potash and Robin Baumgarten.

Through the FSM Connections Initiative, students interested in media are able to learn more about the field by interacting with guest speakers, visiting colleges, and touring hi­tech production facilities. For many, the highlight of the program is spending a day shadowing professionals around studios, sets, and post­production houses.

FSM students at North Lawndale College Prep shadowed media professionals across Chicago. At the Daily Planet, a post­production company, Dwayne Smith helped to edit a Glade commercial. Brittany Jefferson helped direct the ABC News at Noon show, while Kamaria Harmon toured Harpo Studios and even met Oprah herself.

As Brittany Wiggins learned while shadowing at Post Effects, “media is not just about making movies.” Participants learn that the media field can be fun, but it also takes a college education, hard work, networking, and the drive to be successful.

Students hear from speakers and participate in workshops that help to develop their own inter­ personal skills. During a guest visit, Brandi Thompson, FSM’s past board president, explained to a group that eye contact, a firm handshake, and the unavoidable “small talk” are critical to success in the business world.

Zilijan Jones learned that “if you have a positive attitude, you can do anything.” Zilijan put his own skills to the test while job shadowing at NBC Studios.

On visits to Northwestern University and Columbia College, FSM students have learned to produce news shows and act as anchors, camera operators, and floor directors. They have also met with professors, students, and admissions officers to learn more about the college experience.

The Connections Initiative, which is supported by a multi­year grant from the McCormick Tribune Foundation, is now central to all Free Spirit Media programming. Exposure to professional adults not only helps prepare students to pursue careers in media, but also is a critical component to inspire our young people to work hard and pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.

BlogCaroline OlsenComment