10 Things Colleagues Should Never, Ever Say to a Broadcast Journalism Teacher


  1. “Can we borrow a camera and tripod to shoot our game tonight?” Sorry Coach, that is just not possible. We only have so many pieces of equipment to work with, and loaning my gear out to one team will lead to other teams asking for the same consideration. Plus, what if you break it? That camera represents a work station for two or three kids every class period, and forgive me, but the risk is not worth taking. By the way, your boosters could purchase gear to meet your needs for about $400 bucks. Sell more candy.
  2. “Your show was pretty boring today.” Really? Okay. And how exciting was your lecture this morning? Did the students love every second of it? See, when we have an off-day with our broadcast, everyone knows it. It is right there, for all to see. And yes, it happens. But remember, when your class goes badly, and you fail to connect with your students, nobody knows outside your classroom. So…how would you like to do a live feed of your science class to the entire school tomorrow? Thought so.
  3. “Kids like your class because they get to run around the halls and make silly videos.” Actually, they are on-task when they do that. The projects I assign them require some location shooting outside my classroom. That is how they learn to deal with obstacles such as lighting, noise, background, continuity, things like that. And after a couple of days in the hallways, they will spend two or three days in an edit bay, crowded around a computer, making one critical decision after another about the final sequence they are putting together, which will eventually be shared with the entire class, and face a lot of specific, sometimes negative feedback. So all that “fun leads to real learning and improvement.
  4. “Why do you cover such controversial topics?” We cover the world around us. The world teens are living in. So yes, sometimes we dig into subjects that might make some viewers uncomfortable. But many of those issues are impacting kids in every school in the country. Sometimes, we just look into what everyone at school is talking about already. Shedding light, interviewing the stakeholders, learning to be objective, asking tough questions—all of that is next-level stuff that journalism classes should demand of students as they grow through the program.
  5. “You should use more music and comedy in your show. Make it entertaining.” No, we really shouldn’t. There is a place for both, but usually, not on a journalistic program. The thing about music is, much of it is copyrighted. We can’t just “use music.” Beyond that, adding music to journalism is often a crutch, and it often shades the story’s impact or meaning. It can manipulate. So we have to be careful about that. I know music videos are fun viewing, and of course everyone likes to laugh. But it’s like asking an English teacher to include comic books in a literature class. It is usually not a great fit.
  6. “I wouldn’t let that kid be on my show if I had one.” You know, some students who do not do well in other classes can actually find a niche in mine. So restricting kids from participating in a broadcasting program based on problems you have with them in your class is not really fair. I will demand that they behave properly, and practice strong ethics and strong journalistic principles. Actually, journalism classes provide students with a unique way to express themselves responsibly and to grow up a little.
  7. “Can your kids come record my guest speaker?” Not unless you have one of my kids in your class that period to begin with. And then only if I have a camera available. Your department just spent a few thousand dollars on materials—maybe you should add a small camera to next year’s list for things like this. Oh, and every kid in your class has a video camera anyway. How about having one of them shoot the speaker on their phone?
  8. “I have a great story idea for your kids.” Most likely, you don’t. But we will consider whatever you suggest. We do not mean to sound harsh. It’s just that a lot of the stories pitched to us by faculty or administrators are not about teen issues and events. They are frequently about pet projects, or things that do not hold a lot of interest for our teen audience. So please do not get mad if we pass on your idea. Maybe it will work for us, but it might not.
  9. “You don’t have to spend all that extra time at school. Nobody makes you.” That is correct, but it is also disrespectful. Like you, I am a professional, and I take my job seriously. Broadcast Journalism is part of our district’s academic curriculum. It is not like a club or an after school activity. It requires a commitment, one that my students and I take to heart. We will work extra hours, spend weekends and late nights here if it means meeting our deadlines. While you might not want to be part of something this demanding, please at least appreciate those who do. And it’s not about earning my stipend—I don’t get one.
  10. “All those trips you take cause kids to miss too much school.” You mean trips to national conventions to learn from professional journalists and amazing teachers they would otherwise never have seen? You mean the trips to national or regional competitions where kids from our school have a chance to bring recognition to all of us through their skill and hard work? Yes, we may miss two or three days in the fall, but have you seen the excused absence list lately? Football takes 45 kids out of school at noon for a 7 p.m. game that takes place an hour down the road. Speech and Debate students miss Fridays a dozen times for their tournaments. By the way, many of my TV staff members are being pulled out constantly for Student Council, drama, choir, this or that. I roll with it. You can too.


6 thoughts on “10 Things Colleagues Should Never, Ever Say to a Broadcast Journalism Teacher

  • December 2, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I retired five years ago but some things you never forget: “I saw on the website that you get a stipend for those TV classes. What do you do that you get a stipend for?”


  • December 3, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Some of these also apply to print journalism! Great article. Thanks for the big smile it brought to my face!


  • December 9, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    By far, these are the conversations that happen on a daily basis and Dave, well, you have summed them up perfectly once again. I should post these in my classroom.

  • December 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Dave! Once again, hitting the nail on the head…I might adapt these for a print journalism/yearbook teacher. My favorites are:

    Why didn’t you give more space to the (fill in the blank) club? (Answer: because they only meet to play video games…)

    Wow. That story you guys did in the last issue of the magazine had a few typos in it. (First of all, thank you for reading. Students produce the work; students edit the work; it is their magazine. I’d love to say that I sit down with each issue and go through it with a fine-tooth comb, correcting the mistakes, but my job is to teach them the skills to edit. They always notice their mistakes when it is published and respond accordingly….

  • December 14, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I just saw the typo in my own response……

  • January 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I shared it on my Facebook and Twitter

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