What if kids ran the news?

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By Kelli Warner,
KMTR-TV Morning News anchor, Springfield

There’s a group of 5th graders in Cottage Grove who are learning first-hand what it takes to put together a morning newscast.  When I heard that, as a morning news anchor myself, I had to check it out.  And I have to say—I was extremely impressed with what I found.

It was a Thursday afternoon and classes at Bohemia Elementary School had ended for the day, but the KBOH news staff was just getting to work.  First, there was Jeramy, the staff weatherman.  He was sitting in front of a laptop, focused on creating his weekend forecast.  He admitted to me that sometimes people give him a bad time when his forecast isn’t completely right.  I told him that even the best weathermen get criticized from time to time.  He looked as if that bit of news somehow made him feel better.

A reporter, named Hailey was working on her student council report.  She told me the school is working to raise money to donate to Haiti.

At the other end of the table was Abril, working on her segment called “Mystery Student of the Week”, while another reporter named Amber sat one laptop away looking over the footage of an interview she did about the “Book of the Week”.

In the other room, I met the news anchors, Hannah and Maxena.  They were working in their make-shift studio with Maddison the producer.  Together, their job is to record the introductions to each reporter’s story on a small camcorder.  But they told me that they end up laughing a lot and sometimes it takes them longer than it should. Then they laughed at that.

While this is all happening, their advisor, Linda Pabst, moves from room to room, student to student answering questions, troubleshooting problems, and trying to keep the entire group on task as they prepare their newscast. Linda is the school’s Student Learning Coordinator.  She worked to create this unique opportunity.  KBOH News is made up of a staff of about eight 5th graders.  They are responsible for producing, editing, and presenting a weekly newscast that’s accessible through the school’s blog.  So far this year, the kids have created about a dozen broadcasts.

The project is supported by a couple grants that have provided the laptops and digital video cameras the students use each week.  The kids tell me its fun to be on the internet where their classmates can see them, but Linda explained it’s much more than that.  The kids are strengthening their writing skills, and learning about technology.  They’re also getting some “real world” experience.  First, the students had to fill out a job application for the staff position they wanted.  Then they had a job interview.  It was clear from the hour I spent with them that, despite their “jobs”, they are still kids and they like to be goofy, but Linda’s teaching them about the importance of professionalism. She’s even had them watch several real newscasts and she’s talked with them about the difference between the news versus a TV show.

It was quite something to see what these 5th graders have created.  And what I found just as impressive is the time and energy Linda spends with her news staff.  I could see how much these students really mean to her and the joy she gets out of helping them learn and succeed.  My hats off to KBOH News.  I look forward to seeing your next production.