Work to add more visual interest with your broadcast news announcements

header-cgOne can think of high school television as a well-balanced dinner plate. Announcements are the potatoes in a high school television show. Potatoes are good; they can keep you alive, even on Mars. Video promos and stories add the meat. Protein is essential to life. But meat and potatoes are better with gravy. A show needs gravy to keep the viewers coming back for more.

This past school year, we took a judge’s suggestion and looked for ways to add more visual interest to the show. In other words, we added more gravy.

A broadcast teacher at an area school shared an assignment he uses with his students’ show, and we modified it for our viewers.

Long story short, each staffer had to find a photo, graphic, or short video clip for each deadline cycle.

Suddenly, there was gravy with the announcements. Clips of ball games with scores. Posters adding details to upcoming event reads. The plate was starting to look not only healthy, but pleasing to the palate.

Staffers soon realized other cooks wanted to contribute to the meal. Coaches and sponsors started adding their own photos to the celebrations of awards won or upcoming events. They said their athletes and students loved seeing themselves on the air more often as the anchors reported their academic and athletic achievements.

Any good chef knows that it’s important to gage the diners’ reactions. That’s exactly what we did. We found teachers observed more students with eyes on the show, and not just listening to it while they prepared for their first class of the day.

Our lesson was learned. That judge was right. Gravy is a good thing.

Expectations for art or V/Os, aka gravy:

  • Find logos of clubs or sports teams. Ask coaches. Take photos of shirts or uniforms. Use these to build a library of art that could be used anytime to enhance show content.
  • Grab a quick photo of posters of upcoming events. Use these to add on screen or OTS graphics while announcements are read.
  • Shoot a 10- to 15-second clip at a ball game or event. Add a V/O with the score, results or play of the game. These really up the quality of the sports reporting.

While our expectation list seems simple, it really helped spice up our dinner plate! If you have any ideas to help us and others add more gravy, feel free to post them below for others to see.

Christina Geabhart

Christina Geabhart, MJE, advises a daily news broadcast, the monthly newsmagazine and online for Oak Park High School, plus a district sports broadcast program for NKC Schools in North Kansas City, MO. She has been the 2009 Missouri Interscholastic Press Association Journalism Teacher of the Year, a 2009 Dow Jones Distinguished Adviser of the Year and is one of the 2017 JEA Distinguished Broadcast Advisers of the Year. She has also served on KC metro, state and national committees and boards for journalism.

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