The first practice News Day took place in March 2006 when students taking part in the BBC News School Report project worked with teachers, and against the clock, to meet an on air deadline.
Year 8 boys from Forest Hill School, London worked with Lewisham City Learning Centre to produce a TV news bulletin as part of a the project to encourage 12 and 13-year olds around the country to make the news in their schools.
Students worked against the clock to research, gather, write, assemble and order the news to produce this broadcast on 29 March 2006.
Teachers may find it useful to adapt this outline of the day's activities to suit their own News Day.
Here is a summary of the day's activities:
Here is the timetable in more detail:
- 8.30am - Staff briefing
- 9.00am - Students arrive for a briefing, teams and jobs are allocated
- 10.00am - Teams research in preparation for a team meeting
- 10.20 am - Editor and teams plan the news programme at the team meeting
- 10.45am - Students work in teams to gather, write and assemble reports
- 1.30pm - Teams review their progress
- 2.00pm - Editor checks and amends reports
- 2.15pm - Breaking news team order reports for the news programme
- 2.30 pm - Students rehearse the broadcast
- 3.00pm - News programme is recorded as if it were live
- 3.15 pm - Programme is shown to an audience and broadcast on the school website
- 3.30 pm - Students review the day before departing
The start of the News Day
8.30am - Staff briefing
Teachers and CLC staff were briefed on their roles. One teacher took on the role of editor. Other teachers and staff were assigned to assist one of four news teams.
Staff also reviewed the outcomes of the day which were to help students understand:
- The basic components of a short TV report
- The basic components of a short TV news programme
- How to script a simple, balanced report
- How to illustrate it with video or photographs
But most importantly, to have a go, have fun and come what may, record the news at 3pm precisely!
9.00am - Student briefing
The editor explained the aim of the day - to record the news at 3pm.
Students discussed the news they normally follow before naming some of the day's news stories.
They were shown the front page of the BBC News website and considered the order of reports in terms of importance to the audience.
Students were informed that it was their job to make their reports and order them for their own news programme.
The various jobs in the newsroom were outlined.
Students were reminded about health and safety. The importance of team work and deadlines was reinforced.
The importance of using only FIRST NAMES of students was stressed.
Students watched a recorded "Good luck!" message from Natasha Kaplinsky.
Students were divided into four teams:
Each team was assisted by two adults.
- Breaking news team
- National news team
- Newsgathering team
- Studio team
Research and planning
10.00am - Research
Sean researches a story on the BBC News website
Each team prepared something to bring to the team meeting:
10.20 - Team meeting
- The breaking news team researched the day's news and decided on a number of possible stories to include in the TV news programme.
- The national news team looked at news material already available.
On this particular News Day, the BBC brought in video clips and students were given guidance about which photographs they could download from the BBC News website without breaking copyright law. It is hoped that on 22 March 2007, up-to-date BBC footage will be available to download.
- The newsgathering team discussed recent school events and decided on a number of possible stories to cover. Students also considered the equipment available and how it could be used to gather news.
- The studio team discussed the "look" of the news programme and decided on their roles.
Students from each team presented their recommendations to the whole group.
The editor decided which stories to include in the news programme and allocated work.
Gathering, writing and assembling the news
10.45 - Teams make their news
The activities undertaken by each team are outlined below:
Breaking news team
Using the day's newspapers, the BBC News website and BBC News 24 on TV, students selected and wrote up to five short reports.
The newsgathering team interview the head about building work
After being given guidance on downloading photographs from the BBC News website without breaking copyright law, students illustrated their reports with images.
This team were also responsible for ordering the sequence of reports in the final TV programme.
The two student presenters were based in this team but rehearsed with the studio team, before the broadcast.
National news team
Students viewed three one-minute BBC TV reports from the previous day's news without sound and read summaries of the three stories from the BBC News website.
They selected one report to be used in their News Day programme and wrote a script to match the length of the moving pictures.
Using a computer editing package, one student recorded their own voice over the images.
Other students worked together to script the presenter's introduction to their report.
Students researched, planned, filmed and edited a one-minute report about their school.
Students learned to operate the studio camera, lights and sound equipment before recording the news programme.
This team were also responsible for designing the "look" of the programme including the end credits.
The presenters, who were based in the breaking news team, rehearsed with the studio team, before the broadcast.
1.30pm - Review progress
The whole team met to discuss their progress. Students who had finished their task were assigned to help other students meet the deadline.
Students without a task developed their journalistic skills using the interactive educational games on the Press Pack website.
2.00pm - Editor's check
Students from the breaking news, national news and newsgathering teams handed their scripts to the editor.
They were checked for accuracy and re-written under the editor's supervision before being "signed off".
The editor also ensured that only FIRST NAMES of students were used.
2.15pm - Ordering the reports
The breaking news team arranged the "signed off" scripts into the order they would appear on the news programme.
2.30pm - First programme rehearsal
Presenters practised their scripts and the studio team finished off their preparations.
2.45pm - Second programme rehearsal
Like a full dress rehearsal for a school play, students performed the programme as real, making final adjustments.
Recording and broadcasting the news
3.00pm - Recording the news
The studio team filmed the presenters. Their read the scripts prepared by the breaking news team and introduced the reports compiled by the newsgathering and national news teams.
Behind the scenes, students made sure the edited reports, title sequence and credits were played into the programme at the correct time.
Having done no preparation, students managed to record a five-minute TV news bulletin incorporating the following elements:
3.15pm - Broadcasting the news
- News title images and music
- Summary of the news headlines
- National news report
- Series of breaking news stories
- Report about the school
The recorded programme was shown to an audience in the school hall.
A second news programme, recorded in July 2006, was broadcast on the school website.
Reviewing the news
3.30pm - Review
After watching the TV programme, students discussed what worked well and what could be improved.
They departed with a real sense of achievement, having met the deadline and broadcast the news.
Location and equipment
The News Day took place in a large classroom at Lewisham CLC furnished with an interactive whiteboard and a bank of computers with internet connections.
Using the camera and sound equipment
A mini studio was set up at one end of the classroom.
All the filming took place on school premises.
Here is a list of the equipment used:
- Two digital video cameras
- Two radio microphones
- Two tripods
- A microphone
- Computer editing software
Preparation for the day
Following a discussion in a Citizenship lesson about news, students were invited to enter a competition to suggest a news story and write a simple storyboard.
Based on their entries, students were selected to take part in the News Day.
For homework, students were asked to follow the news on the evening before their News Day and that morning before arriving at school.
Consent forms for the BBC to use the students' activities as examples were received in advance from parents and collated by the school.