Using Broadcast News

Putting together a real news show requires a team of people, including producers, writers, video editors, and anchors. When students put together a news show in Broadcast News, they play one or more of these roles. The roles not played by the students are played by the computer.

In the earliest sessions, students are given very limited roles; the computer does almost everything. As students become comfortable with the tasks, their responsibilities are increased. Eventually the students take over all aspects of the newscast, including selecting which stories to put on the air, sequencing the stories in the show, writing them, and finally anchoring them. This gentle phasing in of responsibilities teaches students about the various challenges of journalism, so that the mechanics of the job do not distract from the students' main focus, which is learning about the subjects of the stories.

The easiest job is anchoring. The only ability anchors require is the ability to read. They don't really even need to understand what they are reading. Playing the anchor role may not be very educational, but it is fun, because the anchor gets to appear on camera. Therefore, every session ends with one student anchoring the program he or she has helped produce. During this phase the computer acts as teleprompter. A camera, connected to a computer-controlled VCR, records the student reading the story. By pressing the mouse, the student can play the video that has been selected to go with the story. By the end of each session the student/anchor has a tape of the broadcast. This is a big motivator for teenagers who have grown up in the TV age. Students can compare their shows with those of friends, and can take the tape home to show to their families.

Next Story Broadcast News: Learning By Doing

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