For local seventh-grader Harrison Gilman, coming to the Independent office for an interview was no big deal. Having recently been selected as a kid reporter Time for Kids – the child-focused offshoot of Time magazine – and having interviewed the likes of actor power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as the Santa Barbara International Film Festival earlier this year, Gilman probably only found it strange to be answering questions rather giving them.
Earlier this summer, Gilman applied to be a kid reporter at the suggestion of his Santa Barbara Middle School teacher John Seigel-Boettner. “What could I lose in applying?” he thought. Gilman has been reporting in one form or another for years, having started on the Montecito Union School News Crew. After switching schools in sixth grade, Gilman became the youngest member of the Santa Barbara Middle School Teen Press, at which he covered everything from the film festival to the Macworld Conference & Tradeshow in San Francisco. Though Gilman has focused on video news at the SBMS Teen Press, he sees writing for the Time for Kids magazine as a “big opportunity.”
Out of the approximately 600 applicants who sent in materials, Gilman was selected as one of 20 finalists. “I was in Italy,” Gilman recalled, “I called my mom on this pay phone. Out of the blue she was like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re a finalist.'” Having received the surprising and exciting news, Gilman then had to complete a second application. The finalists were given sample assignments and asked to write articles and include questions that they would ask of people relevant to the subject. In addition to the writing sample, the finalists were asked to convey five interesting things about themselves.
Of the 20 submissions, Gilman’s finalist application, which included a video of a mock news broadcast detailing his interests and his summer activities, won him a place as one of the 12 Time for Kids kid reporters for the current academic year. “I’m expecting a lot of events in California,” said Gilman, who had “no clue” what to expect in term of specific assignments until they were sent out beginning September 1.
In the past, kid reporters have interviewed Tiger Woods, gone to the Peabody Awards, reported on the Democratic National Convention, and done book and movie reviews. With all of these previous assignments in mind, Gilman says that his dream assignment would be to interview professional snowboarder Shaun White, who conveniently lives in Los Angeles, Gilman pointed out. Gilman, who hopes to be a journalist when he grows up, says, “I’m really excited.” While he doesn’t quite know what to expect and isn’t doing as much film reporting as he would like, when it comes to getting an offer from Time for Kids, he says, “It’s kinda one of those things you just can’t say no to.”