Page last updated at 14:26 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 15:26 UK

Young reporters learn from pros

Jonelle, 13, interviews Mandarin teacher Lilly Chen
Jonelle, 13, interviews Mandarin teacher Lilly Chen
Budding journalists learnt the tricks of the trade from professional news makers who were producing a live television broadcast.

The BBC News Channel compared life at school in China with that in the UK through a series of live broadcasts from two schools over 5,000 miles (8,000 km) apart.

Between 0830 and 1330 GMT, pupils from Our Lady's Convent High School in Hackney, London and students from the Beijing Academy of Educational Science Pilot Middle School shared their school exchange experiences on the BBC News Channel, BBC World and the BBC News website

While most eyes were on the TV screen, a group of 12 and 13-year-olds were watching, and learning, from the journalists and technical crew behind the camera lens.

Inspired to make the news


Inspired by coverage on the News Channel, seven Year 8 pupils compiled their own reports, as part of a separate BBC project to encourage students to make the news in their schools.

Frances, 12, said: "I was really proud of what we achieved. We were able to take News 24's ideas and add our own style. For example, we learn Mandarin at school and this helped us ask questions to which people our own age will want to know the answers."

Professional judgement

As Beijing and London prepare to host the Olympics Games, The News Channel's first live broadcast from Our Lady's Convent High School focused on sport.

Great minds think alike. While News Channel presenter Nicola Pearson interviewed 14-year-old swimmer Emily on camera, the young reporters were preparing questions for her classmate Rhea.

Jonelle, 13, said: "Sport is an important subject to report because it leads on to so many other school issues such as health and obesity."

Students also compared lessons, job prospects, school dinners, leisure activities and festivals in the two countries.

Ebony, 13, and Laura, 12,  in the BBC broadcasting van
Ebony, 13, and Laura, 12, in the BBC broadcasting van
Behind the scenes

Having a film crew at the school was a news event in itself and the teenagers chose to reflect this with a photo feature about the inside of the BBC broadcasting van.

Ebony, 13, said: "The van looked big on the outside but it contained so many wires, buttons, computers, screens and switches that it was tiny on the inside."

The news in pictures

BBC director Leah Puplett's job is to instruct the crew to gather moving pictures which reflect the action and grab the interest of the audience.

Sabrina, 12, illustrates the visual connection between a mountain and its Chinese symbol
Sabrina, 12, illustrates the visual connection between a mountain and its Chinese symbol

She explained: "I might tell the presenter to move to their left or ask the cameraman to lift the microphone a bit higher so it's not in shot. I'm constantly thinking in terms of pictures."

Sabrina, 12, also discovered that a picture paints a thousand words. Reporting on the symbolic nature of Chinese calligraphy, which students learn at Our Lady's, she opted to use a photograph with a caption rather than a long-winded description.

Equipment check

BBC producer Declan Wilson explained that his role involved gathering all the resources needed for a report including a camera crew, presenters, reporters, guests, directors and equipment.

The young reporters made sure they too had the tools of the trade and were never without a notebook, pen and a digital camera. Some even had a go at writing in shorthand!

Language college director, Sylviane Martinon said: "It has been an added bonus for the Year 8 students to report on the day as they are the next generation of students who will have the chance to visit China through our partnership with the Academy in Beijing."

She added: "They have developed their journalistic skills and are now going to be reporting on lots more events in the school, starting with a forthcoming VIP presentation evening."

School journalism project

The Year 8 pupils reported on their school exchange as part of BBC News School Report, which encourages students to make the news in their schools and publish it on a school website.

Sixty UK schools, including Our Lady's Convent High School are involved in the 2006/7 pilot stage of the project which the BBC hope to extend to all secondary schools in the future.

School Report will culminate in a national School Report News Day on 22 March 2007, in which all 60 schools will simultaneously make and publish their news on the internet.

For more information about School Report, visit the website using the link in the top-right corner of this page.


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