Who Is Your MVP?

Your broadcast staff is a team, right?  We all like to preach “team” to students in an effort to get them on board with our common purpose:  To produce a great show.

So what if we did what professional sports leagues do, and named a Most Valuable Player each year?

What makes a student “most valuable” on your staff?  Most Valuable Players elevate the entire team with their contributions day-in and day-out.  These are people who excel in big ways, and little ways, and make a strong, positive difference.

This includes, but is not limited to:

*Patting other staff members on the back when they need it or deserve it

*Leading by example, by meeting all deadlines

*Showing respect to the adviser by listening in class instead of constantly texting or ignoring discussions

*Acting as an ambassador for your program, talking it up to younger students

*Coming up with projects to tackle when they have their assigned work completed

*Watching and listening for story ideas constantly

*Paying attention to the world outside their bubble, including world, national and regional events

*Taking care of equipment in the field and in the studio

*Never refusing to do the “small jobs” that have to be done

Notice I did not include “wins awards and brings recognition to your staff.”  That might be valuable, but is it “MOST” valuable? 

ASB Adds New Pre-Workshop Software Training

The 2017 ASB Workshop for broadcast and video teachers will for the first time provide a day of hands-on training on the Adobe Premiere editing software.

This optional session will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 9 at Hillcrest High School.  At the same time, Final Cut Pro X training will be offered as it has in the past, during the same exact hours at Hillcrest.  The actual workshop begins at 6 p.m. on the 9th, also at HHS.

"We are happy to add the new training, and think it will really help more teachers have a great week at the workshop," said ASB Business Manager Martha Davis, who reminds teachers that they can sign up for either optional session during the regular workshop registration process.

While the workshop can provide editing computers for Final Cut Pro X, teachers who opt for the Adobe Premiere session are reminded they must provide their own software and laptop for that training.

Top Ten Things This Broadcast Teacher is Tired of Hearing (With Commentary)

10. THEM: “I can’t be at the shoot tomorrow night.  We have a club game.”  ME:  “I’m sorry you have a voluntary athletic activity with an non-school organization that is going to negatively impact your grade.  But have fun.”

9.  THEM:  “Whoever had the camera last totally screwed up the iris.”  ME:  “Wow, so someone else is responsible for your blown-out video, which you could have corrected in about four seconds?  That’s rough.  Manual settings suck.”

8.  THEM:  “Our mic didn’t work, so we didn’t get the interview.”  ME:  “So we have about ten mics to choose from.  Maybe you should have taken a couple of minutes to test the mic before driving 30 minutes to the interview you now have to re-do.”

7.  THEM:  “Mr. So and So won’t let me miss the last half of math class to work on my story.  He’s a jerk.”  ME:  So the teacher of the class you are getting a solid C- in thinks you might need to stay in his class for the full period?  Even if you ask nicely to prioritize your broadcast class over his core math class?  Color me shocked.  And thanks for making him hate me.”

6.  THEM:  “We didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.”  ME:  “So glad you only got medium and wide shots, and kept at a safe distance, because tight shots are so hard to get.  So is an “A” in this class if you keep shooting wide and medium.”

5.  THEM:  “I can’t find the SD card.”  ME:  “Get out of my office and don't come back.”

4.  THEM:  “Can we put music in the background?”  ME:  “Natural sound is the noise of life.  We value nat sound.  I have taught you nat sound since you came into my class three years ago.  But sure, if you want to put music over the sounds of the parade, by all means go for it.  And yes, this is sarcasm.  Look it up.  It’s a broadcast teacher’s best friend, thanks to students like you.”

3.  THEM:  “Can I have a pass to go cash my check/get some food/fetch my practice gear?”  ME:  “So glad you think my class, and your TV deadlines, are less important than those errands.  On your way back, drop by the counseling center and enroll in wood shop for next semester.”

2.  THEM:  “We needed shots of motorcycles so we got some from the Internet.”  ME:  “Well what I really appreciate is your effort to turn a video story into a slide show.  Let’s just make HTV a newspaper and forget moving images and sound.  And also, yeah, just grab any random image from the web, because the person who shot it won’t mind.”

1A.  THEM:  “We can’t think of a story.  We need a story.”  ME:  “A monthly show like ours is mentally challenging.  You have to come up with a topic every four weeks.  Wow.  Hey, aren’t you glad we don’t do a weekly show?  That would really be a struggle.  Here, let me hand you a topic since I’m 40 years older than you, and certainly more tapped into the teen experience in the year 2016 than you apparently are.”

1B: THEM: "What do you mean no panning or to always use a tripod?  When did we cover that?"  ME:  "I should have been a farmer."

Leaving "Somewhere to Go"

Just in time for the holiday, here is something a smart friend of mine taught me with a casual remark he made over a cup of coffee at Big Momma's.

Brian Shipman, who once worked in news when he was an award-winning reporter for KY3 here in Springfield, was telling me about a student who was covering a star basketball player for a feature assignment.  Brian now runs DUTV at Drury University.  The story began with the kid playing basketball, which "leaves you no where to go."  That small phrase really registered.

How many times have my students started with the obvious, leaving them "no where to go" with the rest of the story?

Here is an example of a story two kids are working on for our show right now.  It is about a 23-year-old who up and went backpacking his way from Springfield to Hawaii to Tahiti to Australia to New Zealand.  Kind of an amazing journey, living in the moment from place to place before settling with the Kiwis down under for a year, where he works now as a photographer.

That story includes photos and videos of his travels, some really great stuff.  BUT...starting with the scenery, or the journey itself, takes away any chance to make that part of the story special or more impactful.  So the story will actually begin in a garage here on the north side of Springfield. Why?

Because to raise money to afford this big adventure, the young man and his father bought a used sports car, spent months fixing it up then selling it to a man overseas.  That is where the journey actually begins, and starting in that garage leaves the reporter and photographer "somewhere to go" as they unfurl the rest of the story.

I plan to remind other teams of students about this concept.  It is so simple, and so helpful.  Leave yourself "somewhere to go" in a feature by not starting with the obvious.

That's one cup of coffee I will remember.   Happy Thanksgiving.

Five Great Apps for Student Journalists

The title of this blog is total click bait.  I probably reeled you in with the possibility of discovering some new, awesome apps you can recommend to your students.  Maybe build a lesson plan around them. 

Sorry to disappoint.  I do not care much about apps.  Some are nice, some are lame, some are just a waste of time and yes, some are necessary in the 2016 world of journalism.  I suppose.

But here are some free “apps” that might benefit our students.

APP 1:  Appear interested.  When you conduct an interview, look the subject in the eyes instead of staring at your questions.  Be engaged, and ask follow-ups that occur to you as you "have a conversation" with your subject.  

APP 2:  Appreciate your partner.  If you are the reporter, you should offer to help carry gear, and let the photog suggest questions that you might have overlooked.  And photographers, help with research, help with the script, do whatever you need to do to make the story the best it can be.

APP 3:  Applaud your classmates when they produce good stories, or come up with great ideas.  Remember, you are all part of a team producing a show that should be a source of pride for each staff member.  Good leadership often means providing positive feedback.

APP 4:  Approach every story with this in mind:  What do I really need to know?  This will help you dig a little deeper, and at the same time, keep you focused on your topic.     

App 5:  Apply the principle of “minimizing harm.”  Covering difficult topics, or talking to people about some of the darker times in their lives is always a challenge.  Journalists should look for a way to report about these issues while striving to minimize harm as much as possible.  In this current climate, that might seem too “old school.”  But nobody said you had to check your conscience at the door to be a good journalist. 

Let Student Journalists Out of the Box

Enjoy this article by an ASB guest blogger, Michelle Turner:

It's common for broadcast advisers to swap email addresses, twitter handles, YouTube channels, and sometimes phone numbers. More often that not, we are the lone duck in our buildings. It's rare to have one, much less TWO, television teachers in the same high school. That is one of the reasons we often are found picking each other's brains at conventions or contests.

When asked, I tell fellow broadcast advisers to find my students' work at www.bluejayjournal.com. It is easy for me to remember, especially since I made sure we owned the domain long before we were given the approval to build a website (much to the dismay of a few Toronto Blue Jay fans who would like to own it).A few times last school year other broadcast advisers pressed me for video only links to my students' work. I found myself explaining that the Blue Jay Journal TV website has access to our videos, and more. It has student blogs, Humans of WHS, special feature pages, and behind the scenes articles from the staff about their stories and PSAs.

Once I found myself having to defend our website. I was asked, "You're not a school newspaper, so why do all this writing and proofreading?" 

It was as if this individual thought "video students" cannot or should not do more, which I actually find shocking. 

It's time to stop placing labels and limitations on students. I currently have a former student who is planning to major in Convergence Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism (Mizzou). She was on both the newspaper and broadcast staffs last year. She is becoming the face of what is expected from today's journalists. 

Why can't a yearbook staff make a promotional PSA or incorporate video into their books with QR codes that lead to YouTube links? 

Why can't a broadcast staff spread their wings and explore the written word, photography, and social media reporting to enhance their online packages? On that note, why can't they have true online packages instead of just a page with a video embedded on it? 

Newspapers (professional and student-led) have caught on quickly that their articles benefit not only from photographs, but from video as well. Our own local newspaper, www.emissourian.com, has worked to add more videos to their online publication. 

It's time to stop putting our students in a neatly packaged box with a label. The "real world" of journalism no longer fits into those boxes. If you have a broadcast program, do not be afraid to have your students blog or take photographs of events (odds are they are already there filming). If you have a print program, don't fear video. In the end, your students will only benefit from the experience.

Michelle Anne Turner teaches at Washington High School in Missouri and is the 2016 JEA Broadcast Adviser of the Year

It's THEIR Story

One of the colorful, cool posters we make available in our ASB Store is the one with the phrase, "It's Their Story."  Sometimes, I think this those three words get lost in the process.

When student reporters ask people to open up to them about some aspect of their lives, something that can be extremely difficult to talk about, it can really be a rush for the young journalist.  They come back talking about all the emotion of the interview, or how the subject was so open and honest.  Those are generally things to indeed be excited about as a reporter.  You want to bring your viewers something strong, something real.

You also want to remember whose story you are telling.  It is certainly not your story.  YOU are not the one who experienced the drama you are covering, whether it is something life-changing or yes, something heartbreaking.  The person you are talking to did experience it, and is willing to talk to you about it.  But it s THEIR story, and it is YOUR privilege to tell it.  Never forget that.

Those three words on the light blue poster should also motivate a young journalist to honor the person who is sharing a piece of their life, by doing the best job possible--shooting, writing, and editing the final piece with care and with dedication.

Yes, it's THEIR story, but it's YOUR responsibility.  Bring it to your audience with fairness, accuracy, and clarity.    

Two Types of Pitches

When we have our monthly pitch meetings, all sorts of ideas come up.  Some are great, some are not.  Most fall somewhere in between.  

What makes a good pitch for a broadcast journalism show?  Here is how I have started looking at it the last few years.

There are story pitches, and there are topic pitches.  One is a little more do-able than the other, but both have their place.

I consider a story pitch something that can be shot quickly and edited in just a few days.  Students pitching stories are usually planning to cover events such as community activities—games, fall festivals, Homecoming, the opening of a new skate park—subjects that do not require multiple shoots.

I consider a topic pitch something more challenging, with a much longer production cycle.  These are usually your social issues or in-depth profile pieces.  They are sometimes less visual than story pitches, and usually require several formal interviews.  They require multiple shoots, sometimes as many as seven or eight locations.  

When your students start pitching for your next show, this breakdown might help.  For us, it is usually about experience and time.  The juniors just coming onto the staff might not be ready for an edgy, or difficult topic that they might feel more confident covering in a few months.  And right now, the broadcast students who are involved in fall sports have limited time to shoot and edit, so they often pitch stories that they can shoot in one day, or maybe on the weekend.

As an adviser, I think it is important for me to make sure kids pitch things they can actually get done.  Usually, that is just about asking them simple questions about time management, sources, research, things that impact every story.  But ultimately, it’s up to them to turn their pitch into an actual segment for our show.