We asked ASB staffer Mehleena Edmonds to submit a series of blogs over the next few weeks, all to be written from a broadcast student's perspective. It should be good food for thought as teachers consider how to handle the difficult decision of when to show, and when to tell, when it comes to training inexperienced broadcasters.
It wasn't all that long ago that I was in high school, a first-year reporter on the staff of "HTV Magazine," and I think what follows reflects what many students need from their teachers as they become Broadcast Journalists for the first time. So here are some suggestions for you dedicated teachers, based on personal experience.
Help me find a focus: Teachers, don’t forget that focusing in on a topic is more difficult than we originally think it’s going to be. Students are typically told that they need to expand an idea for an English paper or a major project. They are not used to doing the process backwards. So, giving them a little push in the right direction does not mean you’re keeping them from doing the assignment on their own. Sometimes all a student needs is the nugget that inspires them to find their own idea.
For example: You give a student the topic of teen pregnancy. A student will automatically hop on Google and start looking at statistics. While that might be valuable information to be used as a detail within the story, even more valuable information would be a person willing to tell their story. Something that would help point a student in the right direction would be saying things like, “How will you show a statistic?” “What would your b-roll be?” “Who would your main interview be?” All of those questions will help prompt your student without telling them to go in the exact direction you want them to go. This gives your student the chance think out the options on their own, rather than running to the computer.
The key is to help your students tell a big story by finding a strong character instead of over-researching it. If you notice they just aren’t getting it, further prompting might be necessary, and that’s okay, especially for your first year students. They may not even realize they have a story sitting right under their nose. Ask if they have ever known someone who went through this experience. FIrst-hand testimony is always stronger that statistics from a website.