Since 1994 Breakout Educational Network has committed to a mentorship program which permits new graduates across Canada, whether with film and journalism backgrounds or not, to work alongside prize-winning film and TV professionals.
Working with the young generation is not a by-product of Breakout’s efforts, nor is it an afterthought; it is critical to its long-term success. A point that too few people or organizations appreciate is that the most important resource a company can have is its human capital. The ideas that come from Canada’s talented young people, if harnessed and trained properly, can pay off with huge dividends in the future.
Although it is not an inexpensive exercise, Breakout is one of the only public policy organizations in Canada that has sought out young, enterprising Canadians for training in public policy television. In many cases, the university graduates hired at Breakout have gone from not knowing one end of camera from another, to being producers, researchers, writers, and TV journalists of cutting-edge public affairs programs examining public policy and then developing their video capabilities to put the pieces together for the larger television audience. Breakout has been able to create an eclectic group of critical thinkers in the public policy realm. This is why it continues to be well ahead of the media pack on many issues.
In an educational sense, public affairs means starting at ground zero, uncovering evidence, and then building context to an issue. It also means disseminating the empirical understanding of issues to the broader public. But it can only be done by producers who believe citizens deserve to be more than simply passive recipients of other people’s views.
In the public affairs area, good producers don’t know all the answers before they begin. The conclusions are drawn through the process of discovery, and bringing the audience along for the ride. Breakout’s view is that the strength of the younger generation is key to that process because they come into the public affairs area with less baggage and can elicit unusually candid observations. As a consequence, they are not afraid of addressing first principles or searching for deeper meaning, or most importantly facing up to the past.
It should be noted that the payoff of the mentorship program will go well beyond the walls of Breakout’s offices. The minds expanded at Breakout will provide the wherewithal for young talent to push the envelope of public affairs in the years to come for all broadcast mediums.
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