Davis High School is one of more than 120 schools selected to take part in a national journalism initiative. PBS seeks to build the next generation of public media.
In PBS NewsHour‘s Student Reporting Labs (SRL) program, students from the selected campuses train in video journalism. Students engage in journalistic inquiry and media production. The student-centered model builds critical thinking. Other skills include problem solving, teamwork, information literacy, and communication.
English teacher Allison Messenger heads the Davis HS journalism program. Students in grades 10-12 comprise the program with many taking part in the Aviator Student Media Network (@AviatorOnline). Several of the students have expressed interest in pursuing journalism as a career.
The Aldine ISD campus teamed up with Houston Public Media/NPR affiliate. Mentors and media professionals offer assistance. Capella Tucker, director of content at Houston Public Media, works with the Davis students. She serves on the Aviator Student Media Advisory Council. She and members of her team also critique the students’ work. The feedback helps students learn and improve their skills in storytelling and scriptwriting.
Students across the country also develop unique stories. PBS publishes each video story on its NewsHour’s website. The pieces become educational resources to use and view. There is also a chance of having the story air on the NewsHour broadcast.
The Davis HS students produced two video reports on the topic of immigration. PBS posted these on the NewsHour’s website. Their story centered on Gabriel Tellez, an assistant principal at Drew Academy. Nearly 40 years ago, Tellez immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 16 from Nicaragua. He left the country due to political unrest at the time.
The project includes a news literacy/digital media curriculum. The goal is to transform students’ understanding of news. It also builds a foundation of civic engagement. PBS hopes to spark a life-long interest in current events.
In the program, students develop a strong understanding of media. They learn how to construct narratives to tell their story. And they learn to think critically about what is going on in the community. This empowers students to be a part of the solution to problems they feel need to be addressed or discussed.
Those pursuing broadcast journalism will have an advantage. They will have job-ready digital credentials for college applications and social media.
In an interview in 2012, Leah Clapman, shared how SRL came about. She stated that for years PBS NewsHour Extra has been publishing Student Voices. The written stories and photographs by teenagers come from around the world. They show how the news affects young people. Clapman is managing editor of SRL.
“We discovered a gap when we asked for video reports,” said Clapman. “We found that video journalism ethics and production skills were severely lacking. So, we began Student Reporting Labs in 2009 with six sites throughout the country.
“The idea is that for kids to produce quality video journalism that they need a strong curriculum, teacher support and mentors who can support the process from the start to finish … there is a lot of learning potential available through project–based learning programs.
“The experience gives students the skills to become content creators of real journalism. They learn to investigate important topics. They learn important life skills as they talk to adults, solve problems, evaluate information and think critically.”
Journalism represents a unique approach to learning in a broad range of topics. Students develop strong storytelling, reporting skills and video production. They learn to use constructive self-criticism in the revision process. And they develop capacities to work on their own. Student participants also share their perspectives on journalism.
The SRL is project-based learning. It involves using research and media production with a purpose. Local PBS stations build relationships with the schools. They show that public media is different than commercial media outlets.
Student Reporting Labs help to stay connected to the local communities. They can be a positive force in the search for new ways of learning and new sources of journalistic voices.
“Student Reporting Labs have the potential to spark curiosity in teenagers,” said Clapman. “Reporting is a form of learning. Making connections to what is going on in the world is a very important factor for young people.”
Click here to view the video reports from Davis HS students. Also visit the Reporting Labs website to view reports from students across the country. Alumni from the project have also posted videos of where they are today.
Campus journalism programs can apply on the SRL website to be considered for the the project. It is open to middle and high school campuses.
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