BBC News Interactive School ReportBBC News Interactive School Report
Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 13:40 GMT
Mixing up your media
By Mike Burnett
BBC mentor at Islamia Girls School, London

Mike Burnett with pupils at Islamia Girls School

Finding news stories can be hard enough, but working out how you are going to present them is where the confusion really starts - as Islamia Girls School found out during BBC News School Report.

The London-based students originally wanted to do their report online, the teachers decided on radio, and the final product was a television bulletin.

They got there in the end but a touch of indecision over the format certainly gave them plenty of headaches.

Not only did they have to learn about news and newsgathering, they also undertook a crash course in producing television, radio and online bulletins.


From the moment I walked through the school gates in January, the girls wanted to cover the topic of first aid and whether it should be taught in schools. They initially decided to write a web story.

Being a journalist on the BBC Sport website, I knew this would require tight writing skills, good picture selections and a solid understanding of the internet.


However, their teacher Ms Hussain was even more ambitious and wanted to do their report as a radio bulletin.

Students then had to write a script and plan their presentation. As well as being clear and concise, a radio bulletin has to be fast-paced and keep the listener interested.

They had to think about where they would interview contributors, how they would record them and how to add copyright-cleared music and effects.


When I returned to the school, I discovered the students had decided to shoot the report as a TV bulletin.

As well as scripting the bulletin, recording the interviews and working on presenting skills, there were a whole new bunch of factors to add to the equation.

Pupils at Islamia Girls School
Trying to find a decent background in a classroom can be tricky
For example, we had decided on our presenters and running order, but where would they stand or sit? We had to think of backgrounds and locations.

We didn't want a messy whiteboard or classroom wall and we didn't have a custom-built studio to hand, so we decided to project a slideshow of various images and School Report logos behind the presenters.

At first, the logos appeared on their foreheads but we eventually found a way to angle the projector behind them, rather than through them.

Other issues such as lighting and even framing shots were tricky - as we found out when our first recordings made the presenters look like they sitting 10 miles away from the camera.


In the end - after dabbling in online, radio and TV - everything came together.

Students took on specific roles: Wafa became the director, maintaining order on the set and stopping and starting the action; Eathaar was the camerawoman; Humaira was our prompt and script organiser.

Some of the girls formed a technical team, adjusting the background display and sorting out the sound effects. Aamina volunteered to put it all together using an editing programme on her computer.

Other students, led by Nuriyah, also managed to get involved with the online side of things by writing a blog.

It was a mountain of a learning curve but the Islamia Girls School proved to be adept climbers.

Should first aid be taught in school?

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific