Why Not Teen Videos on Newscasts?
By Paul Greeley -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/17/2008 8:00:00 PM
Every day, on televisions all over the country, you could sit and watch news stories that cover every aspect of high school life that are written, shot and edited by high school students themselves.
The stories are well-written and edited, and many of them are inventive, provocative and creative. The stories cover issues like teen pregnancy, school bullying, relationships with parents, profiles of teachers, health, love and sex, sports and many other issues that matter to kids in high school. They're often inspirational and poignant.
But most of you will never see them because they only air within the schools or on some community cable-access channels.
That should change. High school-generated videos should have a place in many local TV newscasts and on their Websites. And it's a win-win for everybody.
User-generated material in general is now accepted in the mainstream news media. We've crossed that threshold. Anybody with a cellphone and camera can be an eyewitness. If you watch network news coverage on CNN or Fox News, you will often see many examples of pictures and video shot by citizens that add to the coverage.
Broadcasters are already pursuing the adolescent set. Many broadcast companies like Fox, Belo and Hearst-Argyle are already showcasing high school-generated material, although it's focused on high school sports and is mostly for the Web, not broadcast.
The Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) has a comprehensive High School Broadcast Journalism Project that helps students by offering programs and activities that fund, support and advocate electronic journalism education in high schools. The project offers grants to schools; provides teachers with the skills, tools and information they need to build and sustain broadcast journalism programs; and produces training workshops and seminars.
There's a school network, Schooltube.com, sanctioned by the RTNDA, that currently hosts more than 12,000 videos in a variety of categories including news and journalism, arts and entertainment, people, music, public service, careers, film, fashion, sports, science and technology, to name a few. All Schooltube.com videos have been approved by teachers for viewing in a safe online environment. Carl Arizpe, Schooltube.com's founder, says Schooltube currently has thousands of members from schools in all 50 states, and new videos are added every day.
The students shoot with high-quality digital cameras that record broadcast-quality images, and edit their packages on non-linear computer systems at school, at home or on their laptops, systems that even many local TV news camera professionals haven't learned how to master. The content is rich, fresh and varied, told from a perspective not heard on local TV.
At dinnertime in my house, when I ask my teenage children, “So how was school today?” I get one word answers like, “Good…fine…great.” It's become kind of a family joke as I press them for details. No matter how close you are to your teenager, how much do you really know about what they're thinking? High school students have a lot to say, and express themselves very well through video.
Videos written and edited by high school students could become a reason for them to watch the news—and a way for local TV news operations to recruit younger viewers. Their parents would want to see them. Teachers, principals and school administrators would want their schools represented. And the average viewer would marvel at what the oft-maligned teenager is capable of doing and saying.
Local TV news operations typically air five, six or seven hours of local TV news a day. They have the time, and this is local, fresh content. The perfect place for these videos is on the local morning news. It's often a resource-strapped newscast at a time where teenagers and adults can watch together.
It's eminently sponsorable. Think of who would want to be part of such an initiative—computer companies, record companies, clothing stores and movie studios. Free content created daily from a voice not heard on local TV has great sales potential and will enhance the TV station's image in the community as being the station that cares about students and education. All you have to do is open up the pipeline and let the videos come in.
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