Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Thursday, 16 December 2010

Step-by-step guide to a News Day

Seventeen Year 8 and 9 students at Waldegrave School for Girls in Twickenham, Middlesex, took part in a practice News Day for BBC News School Report.

Their experiences may give teachers and students an insight into one way in which a practice News Day - or the bid day itself - might run in schools.

0900: Start of the day

The students began the day with a reminder of the most important aspects of writing and recording for news.

They ran through the safety rules for the day, and reminded themselves of the BBC's news values. They recounted the five Ws of newsgathering - what, who, where, when, why - and the three Cs of news writing - clear, concise, correct.

The group then divided into small teams and began the important process of looking through local and national newspapers as well as news websites for suitable stories to cover.

0945: Editorial Meeting

The students regrouped, and a representative from each team pitched their favourite stories, which the group then voted on.

School Report anchor Mia writes and researches her script for the practice News Day

The stories that were chosen fell into four categories: local, national, sport and entertainment news.

For the local story, they decided to focus on their school's fundraising efforts for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. A tombola and the sale of badges were just some of the events that helped the school raise £2,000.

Their sport story was also school-based, as students were running laps of the field at lunchtime to raise money for Sport Relief.

The story of a disabled model, reported to become the first to be used in a High Street store's window display, appealed to our School Reporters for their national story. And they selected the upcoming Oscars to be their entertainment news.

The students were then given their roles for the day, which included three camera operators and two footage editors.

Zubieda and Lara were given the job of being overall editors, which involved supporting other members of the team with advice and constructive criticism.

They found that being "hands-on" in their role was both demanding and incredibly rewarding. Lara said: "I quite like being editor."

1015: Writing and filming

Each group began writing their script, considering who they would interview - and what questions they would ask - and thinking about the footage they would need to illustrate their reports.

Nergis and Kerrica, working on national news, said they had chosen the story of the disabled model because "it was unusual".

A School Reporter interviews a teacher at Waldegrave School about the school's fundraising for the Haiti Earthquake
Find a quiet location to carry out interviews to minimise noise problems

"This doesn't happen very often, and we had a vote and this was our most popular story," Nergis explained.

The group's main difficulty with this story was how to illustrate it, because they did not have access to photographs of either the model or the High Street store involved. However, they hit upon the idea of using a mannequin from their design room as a backdrop to their report.

The main challenge for the team covering the school's fundraising effort for Haiti was to track down and interview the students and teachers who had helped raise the money.

Balance was the key for the entertainment team's choice of interviewees. They were able to find teachers who had seen and were able to give their views on the two films hotly tipped to win at the Oscars: The Hurt Locker and Avatar.

"It was hard finding teachers who had seen both films, but we did find two who had seen Avatar, one who had seen The Hurt Locker, and one teacher who had seen both," explained Lauren.

The pressure was on the three camera operators, who were responsible for filming the reports and relaying them back up to the technical team who were waiting to edit the footage into the packages.

The limited amount of time in which to gather and film their stories presented one of the biggest challenges to the School Reporters, so they had to be organised.

Poor sound-quality was also an issue. Students found it was important to find a quiet area for interviews, otherwise the noise from their busy school drowned out what their interviewees were saying.

1200: Editing

With lunchtime approaching, editor Lara declared that "most of the filming has been done".

Anchor Mia had recorded her pieces to camera, which would introduce the broadcast and link to each report. She added variety by sitting behind a desk for some of the links and standing in front of a screen for others.

School Reporters edit film
Editing is a vital part of the news-making process

Mia said she had listened to feedback from earlier practices, and had remembered to speak slowly and clearly, emphasising important words, while maintaining eye contact with the camera.

"I like being in front of the camera, there was only one person watching. I didn't mind it," she said.

The video editors set to work turning the interviews and film footage into news reports.

The national news and sports stories were the first to be edited.

"The editing has gone fine," said video editor Olivia of the first two stories. "Sport Relief was shot in the right sequence so it was easy to put together, and the model story didn't have many mistakes in it."

However, they hit a problem when it came to the Oscars story. All the interviews and footage could not be transferred from the video camera into the editing software. This meant that they were unable to complete the report.

Entertainment reporter Faye said the team were disappointed and frustrated to be let down by the equipment after their hard work. "It was good and worthwhile," she said, "but we couldn't download our report".

1400: Deadline

The fruits of their day-long labour were shown to the students and several teachers.

Although the entertainment team didn't have a completed report, all the interviews they had done were still able to be shown on the overhead screen.

In a debrief, the young reporters agreed that on 11 March they should ensure they check the equipment before filming to make sure everything is working as it should.

The tired but relieved students and teachers were impressed with what they had accomplished.

Lead teacher Nasreen Irshad was delighted: "I was nervous to begin with, not having done a complete run-through before. As the day started to go on, I saw how enthusiastic and creative the girls were. I think they have excelled".

"It's been really fun and very successful," said editor Lara. "I'm really excited about News Day now."



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