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Student Broadcasters
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From the Hallways

Part 2

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"Our school was awarded the National Blue Ribbon Award, and a press conference was conducted at our building to announce the winners in Houston (Texas) Independent School District," recalls Vinne Edward-Arlt. "Many members of the local press and senior people from the school board were present. The journalism students were reporting as well. They did a brilliant job standing side-by-side next to professional journalists and did not shy away from asking good questions."

The broadcast journalism program at
Johnston Middle School work together to
create a news bulletin which airs every Friday.

Johnston Middle School is a magnet school, and students must audition to enter its program. Once enrolled, they study journalism for three years. In the first year, they concentrate on print journalism, and in subsequent years they focus on broadcasting -- scripting, filming, and editing.

"Essentially, the students come in with an appropriate story idea, they develop and script the story, and they go out and interview students, teachers, and administrators," explained Edward-Arlt. "They then come back to class and edit their stories. While some students work on individual stories, two students work on anchoring the bulletin. Together they produce a news bulletin which is aired every Friday for the school."

Journalistic ethics are a primary concern in the Broadcast Journalism program. Right from the beginning the kids are encouraged to be accurate, unbiased, and responsible reporters. Every piece produced must be authentic and original. Recently, the Johnston students received kudos for an entry in the National Scholastic Press Association/Journalism Education Association National High School Competition.

The middle schoolers follow their own interests
and design news segments from start to finish --
concept to filming to editing.

"We produced an 8-minute documentary on the tainted products that were produced in China and sold in the United States," Edward-Arlt stated. "It was very well received at the convention, and the panel was so surprised that it was produced by middle schoolers. We received an honorable mention, and we were the only middle school to win in a high school category."

As a former journalist, Edward-Arlt is excited to share her passion for news with young students who are eager to learn about it. While broadcasting does boost the public speaking skills of her reporters, she is most thrilled by the genuine interest in the news that it fosters, especially among middle schoolers who often have little time for such things!


"Students who are not intrinsically motivated by grades invariably raise their academic and workplace performance when they are immersed in a relevant learning experience. By experiencing the satisfaction of creating a unique, high quality product, their motivation to learn is no longer an issue," Bob Abel told Education World. "In my opinion, nothing replaces skill development in building self-esteem."

Abel's broadcast journalism classes at Mountain View High School appreciate opportunities to showcase their skills outside the walls of their building. When members of the Tucson community come and pitch projects to them, the students are ready and willing to put forth their best effort.


News to be Used

Bob Abel's sixteen years of teaching broadcast journalism have been extremely rewarding. Through them he has learned the importance of reasonable student-teacher ratios to build competence in a complex subject area. Placing the right person in a role like his is essential to the establishment of a broadcasting program, whether it is a vital portion of the curriculum or a short daily news show.

"Find a teaching professional who is passionate about the importance of media literacy among learners," advises Abel. "Encourage that person to join the Association for Career and Technical Education and develop a network of peers to support and encourage him or her."

Abel wishes that he had been more involved with the organization early in his teaching career because of the excellent resources it provides. With regard to equipment, other materials are negotiable, he says, but five durable camcorders and at least 20 stable, editing workstations are a necessity.

"Build a program that is sustainable by developing a solid foundation of ethical procedures and high expectations for student performance," Abel added. "Recruit for diverse, creative students."

"Nothing can take the place of creating a real, usable product for a client my students have never met before," observes Abel. "They are able to sharpen their leadership, communication, creative problem-solving, and technical skills in a way that builds their confidence beyond what a classroom simulation can accomplish."

Students in Abel's program gain priceless workplace skills and experience. Arizona state standards for broadcast journalism require student mastery of both studio and field production skills, so while most of the students prefer to stay behind the camera, they must exhibit mastery of every aspect of the production process. A certain level of "celebrity status" comes with the experience. According to Abel, the students have a good feel for the "pulse" of the campus and learn acceptable reporting principles, with an emphasis on journalistic ethics.

The high school morning show runs five minutes daily and starts with a "slate" that displays a greeting and the date with music. Next there is a pledge to the flag and 20 seconds of silence, followed by a "feature" which is 30 seconds long. The feature usually pertains to an upcoming or prior event which involves students in the school community.

"The next production element is a stinger, which is a 6-10 second motion graphic with music and sound effects that gets the viewer ready for the daily news," reports Abel. "The students write a broadcast script consisting of items the student population needs to know. They include the weather forecast (with graphics) and a sports update. The program concludes with credits rolling and music."

All students are encouraged to enroll in Abel's broadcasting program. In fact, it is marketed to feeder middle schools annually. Students who earn graduation credits must be enrolled in the class, but there are numerous collaborative opportunities for the student body at large. The vast majority of Abel's students go on to post-secondary training, and more of his former students have pursued media-related careers than jobs in other areas.

"Many of my students have gone to film schools in California, and several have become media entrepreneurs," Abel shared. "The local CBS affiliate regularly hires our graduates who typically become news editors. Former students are always excited to come back and speak to currently enrolled students about their experiences."

Below: view the September 12, 2017 morning broadcast from Mountain View High School. Student anchors deliver 5-minute daily news programs that highlight important events in the school community.



"I consider our daily broadcast the heart and pulse of the school," says Susan Morosoli. "Not only do we deliver the daily announcements, but we make sure to be positive and air many segments that are about increasing a positive climate on our campus and helping students to be better people."

Students at Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, California, have been tuning in to Jordan Television (JTV) for more than five years. Seventh and eighth graders join the broadcast journalism class that introduces young reporters to journalistic tips and video production. They rotate through 14 jobs, including news anchor, in the school's television studio. There is little time for instruction, so participants must be self-motivated and collaborative. They are carefully selected through teacher recommendations, interest, and a prerequisite of video production.

"The class is project-based and extremely independent. Students need to be able to think about the news at our school and in the local community as well as the world," Morosoli shared. "They plan through the four stages of film and video production and preplan ideas for segments with journalistic 5 W questions, storyboards, and scripts. Students produce the news segments with a cinematographer and director/producer and then, in postproduction, edit using iMovie, Garage Band, Flash, and PowerPoint."

Morosoli's students arrive each morning for a brief production meeting. Half of them then work on segments to be recorded, while the others go across the hall to the studio and rehearse for 30 minutes before they go live. The group has two cameras, and broadcasts include regular appearances by student council members and administrators.

The students are motivated and focused, and they run the show. In late fall, after the groups are trained, Morosoli facilitates and watches as the kids manage the daily five-minute broadcast. While the broadcast itself is live, two taped segments air during each program. The students have the freedom to choose topics for their segments, and some correspond with relevant school themes such as women's history or civil rights.

"My students gain professional responsibilities and incredible teamwork and group dynamics," Morosoli said of her program. "They build their technology and writing skills through hands-on project-based learning. The students understand journalism and realize the importance of news, and they make a difference every day with the show that they air."

Working in broadcast journalism enhances student creativity and spontaneity and builds life skills and self-confidence, Morosoli believes. In addition, students develop the invaluable skill of knowing how to work within a deadline. JTV broadcasters kept the news coming and created a documentary about her trip when Morosoli visited schools in Japan for three weeks.

"I love overhearing their mature conversations about technology or the news," added Morosoli. "Every day has its ups and some downs. I often find myself -- not trained as a techie but rapidly becoming one -- under tables trying to fix equipment!"

Originally published 12/13/2010

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World