Youth Media Project
Wednesday, 11 February 2015 21:12

Our sixth workshop focused on writing for radio: what are some of the differences between a print article and a radio story? We started off by reading an article from the Big Bend Sentinel out loud, to see how print and radio journalism styles differ.

Then we discussed how writing for radio often requires shorter, more concise sentences. After listening to a few examples from WNYC's Radio Rookies and WBEZ's This American Life spin-off, Serial, the students practiced writing their own narration using a sound clip from a real KRTS story about Buzz Ross, the owner of the Rattlers & Reptiles snake museum in Fort Davis.

Talking about radio writing.

Amber brainstorming.

Everyone shared his or her narration samples, and we talked about striking a balance between simple, informative language and descriptive, vivid language. To illustrate this point, we looked at a KRTS reporter's script -- a 2013 story by Lorne Matalon, the Fronteras correspondent for Marfa Public Radio.

This helped to understand how a radio story is visually represented on the page. Not only does one have to balance narration and sound clips, but one should also incorporate ambient noise into the script as well. As the students proceed with their story ideas and collect audio in the upcoming weeks, they'll be able to piece together the separate elements in a radio script.

Wednesday, 04 February 2015 22:19

Today, after taking a quick set of selfies (including both students and mentors), the students spent some time workshopping their story ideas for their final projects. Using their handouts from last week as a reference, they refined and narrowed their focus. We recalled the five elements of newsworthiness -- timeliness, proximity, conflict and controversy, human interest, and relevance -- and related them to potential stories.

An important element of the conversation was thinking about who our audience is, as well as why a local story would interest listeners outside of Marfa. Students offered suggestions about interview subjects, central questions to keep in mind during the reporting process, and possible angles to take. Certain ideas were very school-centric, so we also talked about maintaining an unbiased perspective and thinking as a reporter first, a student second.

A class selfie.

Mentor selfie.

Many of these ideas opened up a larger conversation about our community. For instance, one student wants to tackle urban gentrification, a trend in Marfa that has caused housing costs to rise. We discussed how gentrification is often related to urban communities in the larger media. We also came up with possible sources for this story, which include a local real estate agent, a member of the local government (who could possibly speak on future plans for affordable housing), and someone who lived in Marfa before the town became a major tourist destination.

The key here is to take these broad themes and explore them through a more specific lens. We'll continue to work on refining these ideas, and in the next few weeks we'll get into more technical aspects -- like writing scripts for radio and editing audio clips.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015 00:00

Today, the fourth workshop of the KRTS Youth Media Project was all about brainstorming story ideas. We started out by watching a video from WNYC's Radio Rookies that explained how to go about gathering ideas for a radio story. We also checked out a student-produced video from Student Reporting Labs on the topic of school safety.

In Mr. Jenkins' class, we had a Skype conversation with Thai Da Silva of PBS. Students introduced themselves, and Thai got the ball rolling on potential story ideas and expectations for the workshops ahead.

Alejandra brainstorms some story ideas for her final project.

Students from Mr. Jenkins' class Skype with Thai Da Silva.

In Mr. Hernandez' class, we brainstormed story ideas in small groups, revisiting the five elements of newsworthiness that we had covered in previous classes. We ended the workshop by throwing out a few preliminary ideas.

For homework, students will brainstorm five story ideas and fill out Reporting Labs handouts from Lesson 2.1 that elaborate more on how to approach an idea, thinking about a balance of perspective, potential interviewees, "characters" in the story, central inquiry questions to explore, and background information.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015 00:00

Our third workshop ushered in a moment of vulnerability when students shared their best tape from last week's assignment (borrowed from Transom): to ask five people what they're afraid of. Mr. Jenkins' class was small enough to critique the interviews as a class. In Mr. Hernandez's class, we split up into three groups.

Each student talked about the challenges they faced in completing the assignment. Difficulty with finding a quiet spot to record was a common complaint, as students realized how truly noisy school hallways are. Overall, students gathered a range of responses to the question. Interviewees spoke about spiders, the dark, fear of the unknown, heights, and a range of other subjects. This was a useful exercise in asking follow-up questions and eliciting interesting replies.

Students listen back to the best of their interviews.

To conclude our third meeting, we presented a short lecture on what is newsworthy, emphasizing the difference between "news" and "information." Using worksheet 1.1 from the Student Reporting Labs website, we discussed the five cateogories journalists use when they talk about what's newsworthy: timeliness, proximity, conflict and controversy, human interest, and relevance.

Then it was time for a quick exercise. We presented a list of news headlines collected from various news outlets -- some local, others regional, others national or international -- and had the students sort them into the five categories on the worksheet. Some overlapped, and we discussed why.

Tuesday, 04 November 2014 00:00

Will social media change Texas politics? Youth Media reporter Eva Guevara asks this question in her piece for PBS Student Reporting Labs and Marfa Public Radio.

Guevara interviewed Texas Senator Wendy Davis about young people and politics on the day of her gubernatorial campaign fundraiser in Marfa, Texas. She also asked fundraiser attendees: where do you get your political information?

Update: Along with 2 other student-produced election stories from Student Reporting Labs, Eva's piece was picked up by PBS NewsHour! Congrats, Eva!


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