Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Thursday, 31 August 2006 12:15 UK

Students take on news roles

Ashley (left) and Charlie make the news
A group of students became presenters, producers and prompt-operators for a day when they made TV news in their school.

Year 8 boys at Forest Hill School in London took on the jobs of real journalists to produce a news bulletin on 10 July 2006, with technical help from Lewisham City Learning Centre (CLC).

Here, students explain their role on the day and give advice to other students taking part in the BBC News School Report project.

Researcher

Sean, 13, said: "My job is to find out what's happening in the news so I can take my research to the team meeting.

Reporter Sean researches today's stories on the BBC News website
Reporter Sean researches today's stories on the BBC News website
"I'm looking for something that's happened today, something Year 8s will be interested in, something unusual.

"I'm looking at the technology stories on the BBC News website because lots of people in my year at school are interested in computers and gadgets. I'm also looking on the BBC Sport website because lots of Year 8s are into football.

Presenter

Nayim, 13, said: "My job is to read the news from the scripts that the news team have prepared. It's a bit scary speaking to a camera when you know it's going to be broadcast to loads of people.

"The trick is to look calm and relaxed and you do that by rehearsing beforehand. That way, if there's something difficult to read, you can change it before you do the real thing."

Presenters Nayim (left) and Ridwan rehearse before the broadcast
Presenters Nayim (left) and Ridwan rehearse before the broadcast
Ridwan, 13, said: "My tip is to tell the news as though you are telling the story to someone your own age. Also read it at your own pace.

"Just because you are being filmed, you don't have to speak differently. The audience I'll be speaking to are mainly my age with some adults as well.

"I'll make sure my language is clear and, of course, I won't swear or anything like that."

Producer

Luke, 13, said: "My job is to prompt the presenter, making sure they ask the most important questions.

Producer Luke reminds presenter Shane to ask the most important questions
Producer Luke reminds presenter Shane to ask the most important questions
"I organise the interview and ensure we film everything we've planned.

"I also check we're not shooting things we're not allowed to, like posters in the background - I'd have to ask permission if we included those.

"My organisation means the team get more done in a shorter space of time."

Director

Ben, 13 ,said: "My job is to plan what each of the shots in a TV news report will look like. I do that using a storyboard.

Director Ben tells cameraman Charlie what to film
Director Ben tells cameraman Charlie what to film
"Then I tell the people operating the camera and sound equipment what to do. I give them the go ahead by counting down 3-2-1. I also tell them when to stop.

"With lots of different team members involved, it needs one person to direct them, otherwise no-one will know what's going on."

Sound mixer

Alex, 13, said: "My job is to make sure the right sound is being played at the right time as the news is being broadcast.

In the studio, Alex mixes between difference sound sources
In the studio, Alex mixes between difference sound sources
"There are two main kinds of sound - the microphone from the presenters and the sound from the video reports that have already been made.

"I make sure they all play at the right level and that there is no background noise. Then I line them up, so I know the order in which I am playing them.

"During the broadcast, I mix between one sound and the next one at the right time."

Vision mixer

Rohan, 13, said: "My job is to select the right pictures the audience will see. I make sure they go out at exactly the right time.

Rohan mixes between the different visual sources in the studio
Rohan mixes between the different visual sources in the studio
"Some of the pictures come from the camera in the studio and some have already been made or recorded. They are a mixture of film, photographs and graphics.

"You could make a news programme with only the pictures from the camera. But the audience might get a bit bored watching the presenters read their scripts.

"The extra pictures help explain the story - they make it easier for the audience to get what's happening."

Picture editor

Charlie, 13, said: "My job is to cut up the pieces of film we have shot and order them to make a report. Before filming, we made a storyboard or plan of what the different shots would look like.

Charlie edits the film his team have shot to make a report
Charlie edits the film his team have shot to make a report
"I started editing by cutting out the bits of film which matched the storyboard. Then I pasted them together in the right order. I listened to the sound to make sure the key facts were all there and that the opinions were balanced. I also checked I didn't cut anybody off mid sentence.

Then I concentrated on the pictures. I showed the final draft to our overall editor who suggested a few alterations. After a few tweaks the report was done.

"Editing does take quite a long time. Our one-minute news report took about an hour to edit."

Overall editor

English and Media Studies teacher Rebecca Price said: "I was the overall editor for the day. During this pilot stage of the School Report project, I felt it was important for an adult to ensure the students were on task and sticking to their deadlines.

Editor Rebecca checks Jordan's work against the plan of the whole news programme
Editor Rebecca checks Jordan's work against the plan of the whole news programme
"However, during a later News Day, I'm confident the overall leadership could come from an older student who had been given some previous guidance from a member of staff.

"As well as knowing about the news process in terms of the journalism, it's also important for the editor to understand how all the equipment works.

"If you know for example, how long it takes to edit a piece of video, you can ask your reporters to cover a story you might have otherwise discounted due to perceived time pressures."

Prompt operator

Jonathan, 13, said: "During the broadcast, my job is to move the script at the right speed for the presenters.

Jonathan controls the speed of the presenters' script
Jonathan controls the speed of the presenters' script
"During the rehearsal, the editor checks the script to make sure it's correct and the presenters check it to make sure it reads well. I make any changes they want.

"You don't have to use a prompt when you are making TV news, but it helps. Otherwise the presenters have to memorise the words or read them from pieces of paper.

"It looks much better if they are looking at the audience than looking down at their scripts."

Camera operator

John, 13, said: "In the studio, my job is to film the presenters. I adjust my camera so it shows them from the desk upwards. I make sure there is a bit of space above their heads, but not too much.

Camera operator John is the 'eye of the audience'
Camera operator John is the 'eye of the audience'
"There are two main shots - of one presenter or two. These are known as a one-shot and a two-shot. The director tells me when to change from one to the other.

"Being a cameraman is like being the eyes of the audience. What I see is what they will see on their screens."

Video tape (VT) operator

Sameth, 13, said: "My job is to load the video tape machines with the right tapes of the reports which the team have already made.

"I have to make sure they are wound back to the beginning of the report so that when the vision mixer plays them as part of the news programme, they don't start half way through."

Script-writer

Jack, 13, said: "I wrote a news script about French football captain Zinedine Zidane being sent off after head-butting a player during the final of the World Cup 2006.

"He appeared to react to something said by Italian player Marco Materazzi and lots of journalists have been trying to work out what that might be. The BBC News website reported a translation done by a lip-reader.

Jack explains the importance of getting your facts right
Jack explains the importance of getting your facts right
"I assumed the lip-reader was from the BBC and in my script I called them 'a BBC lip-reader'. But actually this wasn't true - the lip-reader worked for someone else.

"My editor spotted the mistake and asked me to correct it. If I'd broadcast the original script, I would have been spreading a lie. Also, if the BBC thought I made them look bad they could have sued me for lots of money.

"My tip to anyone writing a news story is to read other journalists reports all the way to the end, otherwise you might miss out important details. Also read everything through twice. That way you won't make any mistakes and your report will be correct."



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