TV broadcasters visit TJHS
Tonganoxie eighth-graders are learning there's more to broadcasting than looking pretty in front of a camera.
As part of a class project in an English course instructed by Charla Jerome, three broadcasters from Sunflower Cable Channel 6, Lawrence, talked to the 120 students, giving them a real-world look at broadcast journalism.
Last Friday, Maria Neider, reporter/producer, Doug Heady, meteorologist, and Bill Edwards, news photographer, told students about their jobs and answered the youths' questions.
Student inquiries ranged from being concerned if the camera makes someone appear to be heavier (yes, it can), to how much the video camera costs ($20,000), and the three ever had gotten sick while being filmed on TV (no, but I know someone who has).
Students observed Edwards photographing Neider and Heady, and, at the close of the two-hour session, three of the students participated in a question-and-answer session with Neider as Edwards captured them on film.
The film was broadcast on Channel 6 during Friday night's newscast.
Jerome said her students are currently writing news stories and commercials that they will present on a simulated 30-minute newscast of their own.
Jerome credited teacher Carolyn Barnes, who helped her plan and carry out the project, for being the inspiration.
Barnes said that a year ago she ran across the idea in a writing simulation textbook.
"It looks at real-life situations that involve writing," Barnes said.
She added the broadcast facet to her course plans.
So, when Jerome planned her year, she decided to include the section on broadcast journalism, too.
"I sat down at the start of the year and tried to find ways to put fun in writing," Jerome said. "Kids learn so much faster when they're doing something they enjoy."
To start the project, last week students were divided into four groups, each covering a different area for news sources, including local, regional, national and world events.
They researched newspapers to find articles that interested them and then rewrote the article in broadcast-style.
This week, the students started on commercials.
"They can take an established product to write about, or they can come up with their own products," Barnes said. "Last year, most of them wrote about their own products."
And finally, the students will participate in filming of a simulated newscast. Barnes said that her husband, David Barnes, will edit the film.
Neider said she hoped the students learned a lot from meeting with broadcasters.
"I was so excited to come here and talk," she said. "And they were so responsive."
Heady said he was impressed with the idea of teaching middle-school students about broadcast journalism.
"It's great for them to learn this," he said. "I never got to do this while I was in middle school, especially as a way to teach writing. They learn to see what we do on the job, but they get to write at the same time."