We asked ASB staffer Mehleena Edmonds to submit a series of blogs 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, when to tell, when it comes to training inexperienced young broadcasters.
Help me write the story: This is an area students will beg you for assistance in because it is very difficult to retrain our brains to write for broadcast news or features. We are expected to add “meat” to our sentences and our essays, thanks to our composition teachers, and of course broadcast news writing is almost the opposite of that. Less is usually more. Adjectives are dangerous, especially for young reporters. So give students this simple phrase as a reminder: “Reporters provide exPLANation. Interviewees provide exCLAMation.”
The best advice I was given in high school was: "Audio first," and it relates to writing a story. Audio is the beast that you will fight in every piece you do, so in the same regard you must tackle it first. As a student, I wanted to jump into editing all the “pretty stuff” when I started editing, and I’m sure most of your beginning students are the same. The words just aren't as exciting, but as your students begin to file more stories, you may notice they become more invested in the words spoken by others, as well as themselves, and not just in the “pretty stuff." Make them edit the audio first, pulling down the soundbites and writing their voice track before they worry about the visuals.
It all comes down to this: Don’t be afraid to help your students. We do need it, and we do appreciate prompting rather than having you doing it for us. Help build your students’ confidence by pushing them to always dig deeper, and go beyond the obvious in their story pitches, their shooting, their interviewing, and even in their editing. It is also okay to let them know that they can always improve. That isn’t an insult, and it will just make them expect more of themselves as well as you continually raise the bar.