Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Monday, 9 May 2011 14:00 UK

School Report: How to be part of a news gathering hub

Graphic of six schools involved in the School Report newsgathering hub project
The Channel Hop Hub was one of seven groups of schools involved in the newsgathering project on News Day 2011

An extra dimension has been added to School Report News Day and schools are encouraged to report on their own news-making process throughout the day, mirroring the BBC's own news gathering operations.

Some schools take on the role of field reporters while others become news gatherers, and, like at the BBC, the "Field Reporter" schools send short updates, by phone and email, about the news-making progress at their schools, to their dedicated "Gatherer" school who publishes them to a running commentary page on their school websites. The pages produced are akin to the BBC's LiveEvents pages.

This guide is designed for teachers interested in taking part and has been compiled using feedback from schools that took part in the very first news gathering hub on News Day 2011.

Decide whether you would like to be a Field Reporter or a Gatherer school

As a Field Reporter school, your role involves:

1. Making contact with your dedicated Gatherer school in advance of the News Day to establish how your reporters will file (send) copy: over the phone, by e-mail, via another method.

2. Compiling short bursts of copy (one or two sentences per update) about the progress of different news-making activities taking place in and around your school during your News Day.

3. Filing your copy (sending your updates) to your dedicated Gatherer school, either by phoning the school, by e-mailing or whichever method you and the Gatherer school arrange in advance.

4. Publishing your own finished news reports on your own school website, as per usual.

As a Gatherer school, your role involves:

1. Making contact with the Field Reporter schools in your hub in advance of the News Day to establish how their reporters will file copy to you: over the phone, by e-mail, via another method.

2. Making or receiving phone calls or emails from Field Reporter schools filing updates about the news-making progress at their schools.

3. Publishing these updates onto a web page on your school website and updating the page at regular intervals throughout the day, as new copy is filed to you.

4. Publishing your own finished news reports on your own school website, as per usual.

Plan your student resources

Three girls manned the phones and two girls gathered the written information and put it on the boards and gave it to the technician
Sharon McLoughlin, St. John Wall Catholic School

It's important to decide how many students to use and how. You could consider using a different student to file or gather each report so that it doesn't take them away from the main School Report production process for for too long, or you could decide to use dedicated students for the role.

On News Day 2011, teachers organised the hub project so that students didn't feel they were missing out on any of the usual News Day production activities and allocated two or three students to the project.

St John Wall used students from Year 9 as they'd done School Report in Year 8
Sir James Smith's used students who'd made a film on a practice News Day
At Marden High School, students fed into an hourly bulletin

It's also important to think about whether an extra staff member is needed to help.

It's helpful to think about where the students will be located to fulfil their role. Marden High School placed the students in a different room but at other schools, students involved in the newsgathering hub were in the same room as other School Reporters, having been allocated their own computer and phone.

St John Wall students printed out pictures and pinned them on a board in the School Report room

It's useful to research other schools in the hub. Find out where they are and compare and contrast them with your own school. Print off images or ask them to send a photo so you know who you're talking to or emailing.

If you are a Field Reporter school, consider doing some gathering yourself. Request an update from your Gatherer school and put it on your website. A student could write a mini report on what the Gatherer school is doing e.g. how the "LiveEvents" page is developing, or what their News Day stories are. Upload it to your website along with your other reports.

Technical considerations

Getting the IT on your side and really co-operating closely is essential for everything. I was able to say 'that's what we need, that's what we want' and it happened
Vesna Klein, Brentside High School

If you're a Gatherer school, you will need to set up a "LiveEvents" page.

There are different ways of doing this and you'll probably find it easiest to enlist the help of your IT technician in setting up the page and assisting on the day.

If the students are going to upload the updates, it's important to check they are able to access the website. If they can't, a decision needs to be made about who is going to upload the reports e.g. a technician or teacher. A similar access issue may occur when deciding on an email address to use; you need to chose - or set up - one that students can access, or, again, allocate the role to a teacher or technician.

St John Wall made a page on their website
Sir James Smith's used a blogging website

It's also necessary to arrange who will sign off the reports before uploading them e.g. a teacher or a technician.

Always link to all the Field Reporter school websites (preferably their dedicated School Report page) from your LiveEvents page, and check that the Field Reporters are linking back to your LiveEvents page.

Exchanging contacts

Ensuring that all schools have exchanged contact details before News Day is a crucial factor in easing contact with one another during the day.

Loreto College used email
Marden High School used a dedicated phone and email
Brentside High School gave access details to the web page

Make contact with each other to find out how the filing will be done; by what means and how often.

Make sure that you are using dedicated contact details rather than a personal mobile or main school number. Direct phone numbers also save students ringing school receptionists who may not know about the project.

St John Wall established contact with schools in their hub during their practice News Day
Plumstead Manor High School wished they'd used the school mobile

Consider how often contact will be made. It may be only once, hourly or whenever you want during the day. Arrange between yourselves as to whether the Field Reporter school will always file the update, or whether the contact should be two-way with the Gatherer school asking for updates as well.

As well as sending text (Field Reporters) or uploading it (Gatherers) to the LiveEvents page, also consider sending or uploading photos or audio.


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