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“In the Time of COVID-19”

is a set of audio and digital stories highlighting the experiences of people whose lives have changed dramatically during the pandemic.

This project was produced in January 2021 in partnership with WUSF Public Media and conducted virtually. Our reporters are students and recent graduates in Florida.

Our Reporters

Amber Amortegui

Amber Amortegui

Amber Amortegui is a recent journalism graduate at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where she was the editor-in-chief for the school’s digital-first newspaper, The Beacon Today. Born and raised in South Florida, Amortegui has learned to embrace one of America’s most diverse regions. As a senior, Amortegui interned at WLRN, South Florida’s NPR member station, during the pandemic. 

She received the Communicator Award of Distinction for Features Host for her podcast, “Up-And-Coming Gen Z Confronts Anxiety, Depression and Stress”. She spoke to three Gen Zers about their struggles with mental health disorders. That’s when she noticed that giving someone a microphone and pressing “record” is one of the most effective ways to captivate the true essence of a stranger’s anecdote.

Karina Cashman

Karina Cashman

Karina Cashman is a Florida Gulf Coast University Journalism major and creative writing minor with a passion for social justice and human rights. Her love for writing and language arts developed in AP English classes and Slam Poets Society. Now, Cashman hopes to use her knowledge in print and multimedia to highlight minority voices and become an activist who fosters policy and social change for marginalized groups.

A seat at the table

My biggest takeaway from the project is that I actually do have valuable storytelling and journalistic skills to contribute. This might sound silly, but in college it can feel like you are slogging away your life working towards some inconceivable end goal. I was...

Héctor García De León

Héctor García De León

Héctor García De León is a senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in Spanish. In spring 2021, he will be interning with NBC 4 and Telemundo 44 in Washington D.C. as a bilingual digital news intern. Previously he worked with UCF’s media outlets Knightly News and NSM Today. 

His passion for journalism stems from watching his local news station WJXT4 as a child and he hopes to pursue a career in entertainment news. When he’s not on the field, he enjoys leading UCF’s Gospel choir and working with Zeta Phi Eta, UCF’s professional communications fraternity. 


From broadcast to audio: how I found my new passion

Working with NPR’s Next Generation Radio has been an amazing experience. I believe I’ve learned more in this one-week project than I have in semesters of internships and classes. As a Hispanic journalist, it was an honor to work on a story for the Hispanic community...

Jordan Norris-Gaither

Jordan Norris-Gaither

Jordan Norris-Gaither graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa in 2020 with a focus on advertising and public relations and a minor in women and gender studies. She has a passion for sharing the stories of underrepresented, marginalized communities whether that be through collage art, writing, or short films. When not exploring a new medium of storytelling, Norris-Gaither enjoys iced chai lattes with oat milk and reading under the sun in the Florida heat.

My week as a sponge: learning about myself in a virtual newsroom

This week has taught me the importance of finding a work environment that wants to see me succeed. Not only does that support result in a cohesive final product, but it also just helps to keep me sane in a fast-paced newsroom.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect from...

Natalia Polanco

Natalia Polanco

Natalia Polanco is an Orlando based illustrator and animator. She is currently a student at Valencia College majoring in Graphic Design, with the aspiration to work on the animation industry as a storyboard artist. Natalia is working on expanding her art portfolio and experience in the industry, with the goal of taking part in animated films and television productions. Most of her art is inspired by her love for animals, people’s bonds, and storytelling. Beyond this, she is an animal lover, having two rescued cats. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, editing videos, playing video games, and illustrating for her mom’s small business.
Noella Williams

Noella Williams

Noella Williams is a broadcast journalism student minoring in African-American studies at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida. Williams serves as the lifestyles editor for FAMU’s newspaper, The Famuan, and hosts a web series for Journey Magazine’s 87 Questions with Journey. She is an editorial intern at 5280 Magazine and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Online News Association, and National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. She aspires to be a multimedia reporter creating content to serve marginalized and underrepresented communities.

How a five-day project sparked my passion for radio journalism

I found NPR’s Next Generation Radio after searching for journalism opportunities for students, and I’m grateful for stumbling upon it. As an aspiring multimedia journalist, I absolutely love learning more about different forms of journalism.  This project provided me...

About NextGenRadio

The Next Generation Radio Project is a week-long digital journalism training project designed to give competitively selected participants, who are interested in radio and journalism, the skills and opportunity to report and produce their own multimedia story. Those chosen for the project are paired with a professional journalist who serves as their mentor.

This edition of the #NPRNextGenRadio project was produced in collaboration with WUSF Public Media in January 2021.


Audio engineers Selena Seay-Reynolds and Ellis Munoz
Visuals team lead Erica Lee,  New Jersey-based freelance journalist, with Kevin Beaty of The Denverite and Colorado Public Radio.
Illustration team lead Yunyi Dai with Emily Whang and Ard Su
Digital Editor Alexis Richardson, Chief Innovation Officer, and Digital Strategist, “The Mom Edit,” based in Philadelphia.
Robert Boos of Metropolitan State in Minneapolis is our Web Developer.

Our journalist/mentors for this project were:
Gabriela Saldivia, independent journalist based in Spain.
Mark Schreiner, Reporter/Host at WUSF Tampa
Jessica Meszaros, Reporter/Host at WUSF Tampa.
Leslie Ovalle, Producer at WLRN Miami.
Molly Samuel, Environmental Reporter for WABE Atlanta.
Our Managing Editor this week was Amy Tardif, Regional Manager for StoryCorps, based in Chicago

NPR’s Next Generation Radio program is directed by its founder, Doug Mitchell.