Sandy Creek student attends CNN’s Leadership Unplugged


It was a unique opportunity for a high school student to get a look at the media and media literacy. And that is what 16-year-old Sandy Creek High School student Breeana Minton did recently when she attended the sixth annual Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience series in Atlanta.

The week-long series of workshops and training sessions held June 19-24 brought 75 high school students out of 600 applicants from around Georgia to CNN’s headquarters to focus on the varied aspects of media literacy. Leadership Unplugged was hosted by CNN Worldwide and the non-profit 21st Century Leaders organization.

Workshops were led by CNN executives and journalists, including the CNN Student News staff. Presentations and workshops covered topics such as diversity, ethics in media, and audience engagement.

Minton said her week-long experience gave her an enhanced perspective of the news media.

“I learned about how difficult it can be to put out stories and to find the balance between what viewers want to see and need to see,” Minton said. “And how to cover all aspects of the stories so viewers can make their own decisions.”

The Leadership Unplugged curriculum is designed to introduce students to the skills they need to be savvy news consumers and contributors, said CNN News Services Executive Vice President Susan Grant.

“Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience is an amazing opportunity for these students to learn about the media industry,” said Grant. “My CNN colleagues and I are thrilled to offer these extraordinary young people a forum to further develop their personal leadership styles, as well as learn more about some of the most critical challenges facing media professionals every day.”

A highlight of the week was the Tuesday tour of the CNN facility and lunch with many of the people responsible for bringing the news coverage to fruition.

“We got the chance to speak with the people who work in difference aspects of the company and to learn about the varied jobs in the organization,” Minton said.

Minton said the diversity workshop was especially meaningful because it helped her to understand what CNN stands for and how the organization finds the balance in news stories.

The curriculum for Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience was developed by the CNN Student News team of journalists and educators.

“The media literacy skills they learn, combined with their exposure to CNN executives and media professionals gives students a unique opportunity to experience journalism and the business of media at the headquarters of the world’s news leader, said Donna Krache, executive producer of CNN Student News.  

21st Century Leaders, Inc., is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire the next generation of Georgia leaders by empowering high school students with essential business and community leadership skills through programs connecting a diverse group of enthusiastic peers and passionate professionals.