Ending 2017 With Random Thoughts

For background, I have been teaching Broadcast Journalism since the fall of 1989, when I started something called "HTV Magazine," a monthly newscast produced by my students at Hillcrest High School in Springfield, MO.  We also have a new podcast we like a lot, called "Bay 11."  Find it and try it, please. 

I'm older than most of the people who take time to read this blog.  Not necessarily wiser...just older.  So here come some random, often disconnected, and sometimes trivial reflections as the year 2017 dissolves.   And stop using so many dissolves.  They are not necessary.  But I digress...

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*I am sort of tired of the hand-wringing over "fake news."  Yes, it's out there.  Best way for teachers to battle it is to make kids actually cover the news.  Demystify the process.  Make them make ethical, fair decisions on news coverage.  Oh, and fake news is nothing new.  It's just got a better PR team these days.

*Goodness I'm tired of irresponsible, self-absorbed, device-obssessed, app-addicted, petty teenagers, the 2017 version.  But every time I want to just rant on one of my students, I try to remember what my 6th grade teacher told me after I was cutting up in class for the zillionth time:  "You're annoying."  Probably still true, so I will continue to bite my tongue for the most part.  After all, I was annoying my teachers without the benefit of smart phones.  I just used a smart mouth.  #gifted

*Contests suck.  Unless you win.  Sorry.  A little crude.  But come on, we always want to win, and we always blame the judges, say they're stupid, say the rich programs have an advantage, the schools with more diversity get more love, blah-blah-blah.  We did win a biggie last spring, our eighth RFK Award.  That was cool.  But still, contests generally suck for all the losers, and if you keep entering, you will become a loser.

*We tried to change our show to a quarterly.  Epic disaster, so as of early November, it's a monthly again.  I gave them two months to produce the first (an only) "quarterly" version and it was actually worse than our normal monthly productions.  Better to keep them a little busier, cranking out more, not less.  It just goes to prove you are never too "seasoned" to totally screw things up and have to back track.  #notgifted

*I am finding there are more kids with a passion for fictional storytelling than ever, and that is fine.  Actually, it is not fine.  Journalism is the hill I will die on, but I can meet good kids half way.  They do some journalism each month for our show, and the rest of the time they can make up whatever stuff they want for their short movies, or for a non-journalism contest.  

*DSLRs.  So over them.  Can someone invent the next affordable, better video camera for scholastic news teams?  

*FCP vs. Adobe Premiere.  I just don't care.  Any kid who masters either in high school can certainly move on to whatever software the colleges are using.  "Industry standard" gets thrown around way too often.  Good stories are good stories, and NOBODY watching cares how they were edited.

*Podcasting is fun.  Really fun.  And it is here to stay.  I hope more high schools join in and find their own unique approaches to audio programming.  By the way, it is an inexpensive way to get started in broadcasting.  Somebody should actually write a blog about that. 

*While we all agree contests we don't win suck, it is a good idea to enter your student work and get some feedback.  Why?  Because after a while, they stop listening to us.  Let a total stranger with some street cred (the "professional") hassle them about shaky, out of focus shots, or boring, lightweight content.  I will try to follow this advice in the months ahead.  Enter my kids more, and let the pros kick them in their egos.  Note to professionals:  Kick them more.  We need you to do that.

*To 2018 I say, "bring it on."  We are a nation bickering with each other over pretty much everything.  It's our season of discontent in 'Merica.  If young journalists can not find stories with conflict--and any good story has to have a conflict--then they just aren't paying attention.