After an eight-month hiatus, hsbj.org is back with a new year-end News Literacy PSA Contest called REALLY?
REALLY? is the first word that should come to mind when your students receive information -- from a text, a Tweet, their best friend, the New York Times, their mothers.
After that there are five quick questions that can help separate truth from fiction in the the deluge of information we have today. Before you believe (and expecially before you pass along) any information, ask REALLY? Then ask:
1. Who Said It?
2. Can I Trust That Person?
3. Is That Person Prejudiced on This Subject?
4. Am I Biased on This Subject?
5. Where Can I Get More Reliable Information to Make My Own Decision About the Subject?
We've put together new lesson plans to go with the Al Tompkins REALLY? Webinar -- with lots of good video stories that would have never been broadcast if someone had just asked REALLY?
Contest Deadline is December 20, 2011
But Wait There's More...
Candace Bowen of Kent State University has produced a new, NewsU course using the REALLY? approach. There are interactive lessons and lots of examples. Check it out.
-- Carol Knopes
By Dave Davis, Hillcrest High School, Springfield, MO
The first day of the rest of my online life began on Tuesday, September 29. That is when our new school website, hillcresthornets.org, launched.
After teaching for 27 years, including 26 at Hillcrest High School, and after advising a broadcast journalism program since 1989, I am now, at last, a "print journalism" teacher. Or is that title really a thing of the past? I think it is.
What I have realized in the weeks and months we have been working on the new site is that I am not a broadcast OR print teacher. I'm just a journalism teacher. It's all the same these days.
Here is how we have approached our new online presence so far. We set up our site so that one short, lead story at the top of the home page would change everyday. That's the responsibility of our Editor-In-Chief Chelsea Peebles. It is not her only duty, but it is one of the most visible. That story will not jump inside. It is a short look at a news item, with just one photo, and it will usually be updated in the late afternoon when our TV class meets.
The longer feature on the bottom of our home page will frequently be a profile of a student or staff member. The subject matter is really up to Kelsi Moos, our "On Campus" editor. Her title may change since the piece she oversees is actually our "In the Spotlight" feature, linked on the upper right of the home page. That story will jump to a separate page, with at least four photos, and will include a video clip when we have one. We plan to change that story every three or four days.
The "Beats" you find on our home page each have a student reporter assigned to them, and we will update those every two weeks. The students covering the beats are making photo assignments for our two online photographers. So far that is working fine. Some of the beat reporters will shoot their own photos when the two staff photogs are not available.
Our video clips are shot on Canon GL2 camcorders because that is what we have for production of "HTV Magazine," our long-running TV show. It would be simple to gather video on flip cameras or other less-expensive camcorders. Our goal is to punctuate certain Web stories with video and sound. We are not producing typical news packages for the website yet. What we have posted so far are just video clips designed to give you a feel for an event or a class activity. We did grab a couple of soundbites at the football game we recently covered, but you will notice we let the action dominate and did not add a reporter voice track to the clip. Again, this site is evolving, and we may do that in the near future.
We are using WordPress for our site because after a bit of a learning curve, we have found it to be pretty user-friendly. Our Web designer, Mike Teuber, learned WordPress over the last six weeks so he could use it to design the site to be kid-proof and teacher-proof. It's set up where we will have a very hard time disrupting the design. One other advantage of using a blog format like WordPress is that each entry is automatically archived, which is really nice.
We are hosted by Go Daddy. Our principal paid for three years of hosting, and we have a ton of space so we will never overload the server with content such as video files.
My biggest challenge right now is advising both a brand new website and a monthly TV show. The same 17 kids are producing both, but it remains to be seen how we will meet deadlines for the site and the show in the weeks ahead.
I also find I'm teaching news writing all over. My broadcast kids are used to writing very lean, and in a conversational manner appropriate for television. Now they are writing to be read, not heard. We have spent a lot of time on leads, on the wonderful use of the word "said," and on AP style, which we have not yet mastered.
What we have going for us at this point, as October begins, is a lot of enthusiasm, some very positive feedback from our faculty and administrators, and the opportunity for this year's staff to be pioneers in our school's first venture into the world of convergence.
Post your comments on the HSBJ Teachers Forum
HSBJ welcomes Dave Davis, the Broadcast Adviser for Hillcrest High School in Springfield, MO. Dave will be guest blogging here over the next few months as he relates his experiences in re-designing the school's website.
Phase One: The Planning
When I got the “green light” to go ahead with the total re-design of our school’s website, it was time to talk to the stakeholders involved. That meant visiting with teachers, administrators, activity sponsors, a few parents, and of course, students. Their input was invaluable, and while we are not using every suggestion they made, a lot of what our site will contain came from those conversations. This effort has been collaborative from the beginning.
The biggest challenge for us is to create a site that will act not only as the official, “corporate” site for the school, but also serve as a daily source of news about Hillcrest High School. The first thing we did was purchase a domain our audience could actually remember. Mr. Rush, our principal, leaned toward having our mascot, the Hornets, in the web address, and we complied. Soon, hillcresthornets.org will launch for all to see.
Mike Teuber, my web designer, a former student from way back who is doing this job for about a third of what he would get otherwise, began asking me the pertinent questions so he could begin his work. What links would be permanently placed on the home page? What elements of the home page will change daily, weekly, or every now and then? What about video clips?
That last one, “What about video clips?” is crucial. My advanced broadcast journalism class will actually maintain the new site. We are shooting video all the time anyway, and we definitely want to add that new element to the school site.
In addition, we decided to go back to something I was familiar with from my days on the college and high school newspaper—beat reporting. The “beats” we chose to report on will have links on the right side of the home page. Students have been assigned specific beats, and they immediately made contact with the various teachers and sponsors so they can build a good working relationship with them.
My site “Editor-In-Chief” (again, the influence of my print days) is Chelsea Peebles. She will oversee the work flow once we get underway. She will also have a column on the site, and make sure the lead story changes everyday.
That “work flow” issue is one we are wrestling with right now. The site is still a week or two from launching, and we have to figure out just how we get content gathered, written, and posted in a timely fashion. We even have to determine which computers we will devote to web content and which will be just for our regular video production. Or do we use them all for both?
Stay tuned as this “journey to convergence” continues in the weeks and months ahead.