Turn Your Daily Bulletin Into A Newscast

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Last month I talked about why we should emphasize the “journalism” in broadcast journalism. This month I’d like to discuss how we can do this by adding newspackages to our newscasts.

A lot of broadcast journalism programs tend to produce daily announcement shows–one where anchors simply read daily bulletin items and report scores. But the inclusion of edited news stories can add depth to your program as well as provide your students with a true journalistic learning experience.

natalieeditwebThere are a lot of reasons why you should make the change and include newspackages in your program.

  • Lists of facts, dates and scores are best left to websites and twitter feeds. Utilize the medium of video to its fullest by including moving images and sound to help the audience understand a topic and people in multidimensional ways.
  • They include video and audio evidence (b-roll) to affirm or contradict claims made by various parties. If a picture is worth 1000 words, then video is 1000 words 30 times a second.
  • Students learn a lot by becoming mini experts for each story. They interact with a variety of people (administrators, experts, students from a variety of backgrounds) and learn to express all of these ideas in a coherent way to the audience, using multiple methods (writing, performance, videography, sound, graphics, etc).
  • Newspackages expand the audience’s knowledge about a topic that you could never achieve with a 15 second bulletin announcement. They have the time and space to explain/clarify difficult concepts and provide multiple points of view.
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Working on a news package allows students to become mini-experts on a topic and learn much more than just the technical elements of broadcasting.

Here are some tips on how you can start integrating newspackages into your broadcast program:

  • Determine your purpose for producing newspacakges, and be clear with your staff what you expect of their quality and quantity of work.
  • Discuss your plans with your principal and administrators and get them on board. Emphasize the curricular goals and outcomes, and have a conversation about what they can expect to see (but don’t make any deals with them about content–you want to always protect the students’ free speech rights!)
  • Learn by studying award-winning academic and professional news stories to find out what makes them so effective.
  • Train the staff. Videography, audio and editing skills will need to be taught and practiced before you send a reporting team out to cover a story.
  • Start small. Add a few stories at a time to your show until you and the staff start to get the hang of it, then add more.
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Newspackages allow you to provide visual and audio evidence, as well as display the emotion of a topic or event.

Lack of equipment is probably one of the biggest hurdles in creating newspackages. There are a lot of ideas for producing broadcast stories on a budget, including using the students’ smartphones. Consider a rotating schedule where teams use the few cameras you have in succession. There are also options for publishing your work on free or low cost web hosting services.

If administrators think you should be providing the school PR services, try to remind them about the advantages of serious academic journalism, especially as Common Core standards start taking effect, and emphasize collaboration and critical thinking.

For more ideas as you integrate newspackages into your newscast, take a look at this presentation I gave at the National High School Journalism Convention in Boston.  For tons of other great ideas for broadcast journalism, take a look at our Guide to Broadcast and Video.

What challenges have you encountered when trying to teach students to produce newspacakges? Share your ideas and advice in the comments area below.

Michael Hernandez

Michael has taught Film/Video Production and Broadcast Journalism since 1999, and advises the Pacemaker-winning Mustang Morning News. He regularly presents seminars on journalism, video and technology-related topics, and is a former JEA National Broadcast Adviser of the Year. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cinehead

mhernandez has 52 posts and counting.See all posts by mhernandez

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