Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 17:59 UK

All you need to make the news

rehearsal
Here is a list of equipment and easy-to-follow steps that teachers may find useful for making TV, radio and online news.

It's important to remember you don't need the latest technology to take part in the project. If you can post a written report or listen to a recording of a student's voice on a school website, you can broadcast the news.

It's a good idea to start with a simple set up and build on your technical expertise. For example, you could use one medium on your first News Day and a different platform during a second News Day.

Please note the BBC does not recommend or endorse any particular software or equipment. References in this article are merely suggestions.

Requirements for TV, radio and online

Schools taking part in the School Report project need to be able to place the students' news on an internet site for others to see. This is the broadcast element of the project.

Schools may have their own website or they could use one belonging to a partner such as a Regional Grid for Learning, a City Learning Centre or another school.

Schools also need to be able to ensure the website content is appropriate, safe and legal.

Be very careful about including music in your reports and news programme. There are strict copyright laws and even a short piece of music could cost you a lot of money.

Television

You will need:

  • One or two cameras to record students reading the news and to record material for broadcast. The cameras should output video in a format that can be broadcast on the web.
  • Separate microphone/s. The one built into the camera will probably not be good enough.
  • Filming
    It's not necessary to have more than one camera, but the ability to make a news report on location (even if only at school) will make the project much more interesting.

  • Editing equipment. At least one person should be able to manipulate video and other visual elements. Ideally more students should be involved.

    Again this isn't absolutely essential but the ability to add recorded reports to the news programme makes it much more interesting. Compare this with a programme in which students read to a camera with no inserts.

    Programmes such as Avid Free DV offer a free editing resource with a tutorial.

  • You will also need a person at the school who is confident using the equipment. Ideally they should have a good understanding of the technical side of filming for TV, for example: how to frame shots, how to edit, how to mix in sound. They should also know how to troubleshoot.

    There may be a parent with such knowledge who is happy to help on the day and/or show staff the essentials.

    Radio

    You will need:

  • Facilities to record students reading their reports. It's preferable to be able play in items from CDs and minidisks during the recording. However, these items can be added during an edit.

    One of the simplest ways of recording is to use a microphone plugged into the back of a computer.

    meeting
    It sounds more professional if you plug the microphone into a small mixer on the way into the soundcard. Good quality mixers are available from companies such as Behringer.

  • Editing equipment. At least one person should be able to edit sound. Ideally several students should be involved.

    Audacity is a free audio editing software package teachers may wish to consider.

  • Portable recording equipment, for example: minidisk, microphone, headphones. One set of equipment is the minimum but more would be preferable.

    A word of warning about minidisks. It can be difficult to find minidisk recorders which take microphone inputs.

    An alternative is a memory card recorder such as the Edirol R09. It comes with a built in microphone but a separate one would be preferable.

  • A person at the school who is confident using all the equipment Ideally they will have a good understanding of the technical side of recording for radio e.g. how to mix in sound, record background noise, edit. They should also know how to troubleshoot.

    There may be a parent with such knowledge who is happy to be there on the day and/or show staff the essentials.

    Online

    uploading
    You will need:

  • A digital camera.
  • Software to manipulate images.

  • Software to allow students to put their reports onto the website. (available free from http://www.thefreesite.com)

    PUTTING NEWS ON THE INTERNET

    Armed with the tools you need, here's how to put your news - be it written web pages, TV or radio - on the internet:

    This guide is broken up into seven chapters. Click on the links below for the section you require.

    The first thing you need is somewhere to store your material. This server space can be purchased or may already be available. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will offer a certain amount of free server space for your web pages.

    Many schools already have websites hosted on their own (or someone else's) server. If this is the case, then it is quite possible you will be able to put up other pages on this site.

    Find out who is responsible for looking after the current site - the administrator. Have a chat with them and see if you can add your material.

    The administrator will need to add links from their pages to your pages so that people can find your news.

    You may decide that you want to host your content on a separate server - different to the one your school uses. It is a good idea to check with the administrator first.

    As well as creating links between pages hosted on the same server, the school administrator can also add hyperlinks between web pages on different servers.

    You can create a web page using a number of different programmes.

    reading
    Many people use software such as Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe Dreamweaver. You can become proficient in such programmes in a short space of time and create something that looks professional.

    If you are part of a school website, it is probably worth using the same design ideas to create a uniform look.

    It is best to avoid a design which relies on big pictures as it will make pages slow to download and put off potential viewers.

    If you are creating a website from scratch, remember to give your home page a name. Adding /index.html to a web address is the default setting for a homepage e.g. www.myschoolreport/index.html

    (If you typed www.myschoolreport into a search engine, you would have difficulty finding your pages.)

    When creating your news, it is important NOT TO USE MUSIC, unless you are certain of the copyright implications. Music licence holders charge for its use by territory, which means you could be in for a very large bill if your website can be accessed from anywhere in the world.

    If you are making pre-recorded audio and video available on your website, you will need to upload them to the internet via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

    After uploading, add a link from your web page to these files, so that when someone clicks on the link, the audio or video will play in your selected player on your computer.

    Audio and video material can be stored anywhere; there is no requirement to host this media in the same place as the web pages.

    Once your video, audio or web pages are created, you need to upload them to the internet. The easiest way, if you are part of a wider school site, is to email the pages to the site administrator and get them to upload the pages to the server.

    If it is down to you, the way to get your material to your server is via something called File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

    There are a number of different bits of software which will allow you to this.

    Essentially, the FTP software makes the directory on your server, where you are sending the web page, look just like a directory on your own machine. Have a look at the example below:

    In this example, the window on the left is a directory on your local machine and the one on the right is the directory on the remote server.

    You simply select the file you want to transfer from left to right (from your local machine to the remote server) and click the green arrow to send.

    There are a number of settings you will need before you can access the remote server. The host of your web pages should be able to give you all the information you need. Have a look at the example below:

    Your host name is the address of the server and may be in the form of a domain address or given as an "IP" address (a series of numbers and full stops).

    When creating your news, it is important to use your own material and not other people's, unless you have the owner's permission, in writing, to use their material in the way you have stated.

    This applies to both video and audio. As a general rule, it is best to avoid using music, unless you have created it yourself or are certain of the copyright implications.

    As the music licence holders charge for its use by territory, you could be in for a very large bill if you use music on a medium with world wide coverage!

    If you decide to stream live, you need to decide whether you are going to stream 24 hours a day or just broadcast a one-off programme.

    If you chose the one-off option, you need to think about what will be there after the programme has finished and how people will find you for the start of a broadcast.

    You will need to create links from your web pages to the live stream.

    For live audio and video streaming, you need a separate server to which you can send your live stream. Be aware that not all servers offer this facility.

    During streaming, you send a single audio stream from your local streaming machine to a server which can send out many streams.

    Firewalls may be present which will block media streams (unless http streaming is used). This may mean the school can receive video but not send it (some firewalls allow inbound streams but block outbound streams). Have a chat with the administrator to find if some reconfiguration of the firewall is needed either at school or the Local Authority. This depends on the set up in your region.

    Live streaming can become costly using a dial-up connection as it needs to be open for the whole duration of the live stream. Also, bandwidth issues and software licences required for multiple streams can be costly.

    A broadband connection will help keep the cost down and avoid tying up the phone line.

    Be aware that sound files can be big, video even bigger. They can take a long time to upload to your website and a long time for people to download.

    You may also find that your service provider puts a limit on the monthly bandwidth available to you; in other words how much material can be uploaded and downloaded.

    For text-based online news, this is not too much of a problem as web pages are quite small in terms of file size.

    However, if you have created TV or radio news and too many people listen to or watch it, you may exceed your monthly limit.

    This could mean your material stops being accessible, or that you are charged a premium for the extra bandwidth you use, as more people download your material.

    Therefore try and keep your audio and video file sizes as small as possible. Use compressed file formats such as .mp3 or .wmv and make your audio mono rather than stereo.

    ADDITIONAL HELP

    If you need assistance putting your students' news on the internet, your local City Learning Centre (CLC) may be able to help. There are over 100 CLCs operating in urban areas across the country, providing state-of-the art ICT-based learning opportunities for pupils in the vicinity.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Help is also available from your nearest Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC). They provide internet services, broadband infrastructure and content for Local Authorities and schools in their regions.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    A free online publishing tool, called Making The News (MTN), has been created for all ten of England's RBCs. MTN enables schools to publish news online in a variety of formats including text, images, audio, animation and video.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    A free radio channel, Radiowaves Voice It, enables young people to create websites, blogs, podcasts and vodcasts to investigate, report or campaign on issues that matter to them. It is an opportunity for students to get their voices heard by people who can make a difference, such as local councillors, MPs and ministers.

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites




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