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Here's a sampling of the NSPA finalists in Story of the Year and Broacast Pacemaker Competitions


Check out Friday's 'public forum' entry.


NSPA Finalists - Part I

September 26, 2010

Originally posted: September 20-24, 2010

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring finalists in the National Scholastic Press Association’s Broadcast Pacemaker and Story of the Year competitions. HSBJ provided professional broadcasters to judge the contest, which was also co-sponsored by SchoolTube, which is collected all entries and is posting the winners.  Winners will be announced in November at the fall NSPA/JEA National High School Journalism Convention in Kansas City.

Full list of finalists is here.   

SPORTS: On Monday, Ladue Watkins Horton takes the sports honors with its story on of a local boxer.  Watch the camera work setting up wide, medium and tight shots. The interviews are strong and the script is carefully written.

NEWS: On Tuesday, Central High School in Springfield, MO, takes a USA Today/EPA national investigation of air quality in high schools and localizes it to point out troubling chemicals in the school. Solid interviews with a medical expert and several teachers plus great B-roll make this an important story to tell.

Many schools would not tackle this kind of story – about a potential health problem in the school. This is the very kind of story our students should be reporting. Central High’s broadcast staff, adviser and administration should be commended for their commitment to students’ Free Press rights.

FEATURE: On Wednesday Apple Valley HS handles a sensitive subject with just the right touch. Everybody on campus knows The Cowbell Guy – who plays the cowbell at hocket games, but there’s more to know about him. Nice anchor finish – thanking the subject and his parents  for sharing the story. Note: This entry needed to watch the Rule of Thirds in the shooting – and put the subjects on the right or left third – eyes on the top third line.

NEWS SHOW: On Thursday, Blue Valley Northwest shows two different faces. The reporting and stories are solid, well shot, well written, certainly some of the best we’ve seen, but the anchoring is all schtick. There’s the falling snow, the Ray Charles imitation, the silly banter. For the last segment, the anchors quietly introduced an extraordinary story featuring an emotional audio interview with a dying student. This was incredible. The anchors’ introduction was perfect.

Anchors hold a show together. Their lead-ins set up the stories – often giving the who, what, where and when that lets reporters go into more depth on a slice of each story. Good anchors are vital. There should be interaction between anchors, but it shouldn’t be silly or forced.

NEWS SHOW:  On Friday, Mira Costa High School’s news show is a treat to watch. Mira Costa is doing serious stories on important teen topics. There is no fancy moving background or over-the-top opening, just a solid news show. Announcements pop up as readable slates. That saves valuable air time. 

The program is a “public forum,” meaning the students choose the stories and edit them. Their teacher is an adviser, not a news director. The teacher trains the staff and gives authority to student producers – of course watching for libel or any other inappropriate content. Post show advisers typically go over the production with the entire staff, pointing out the good and the bad and grading the students’ work. These public reviews are important “teachable moments.”  Mira Costa’s students obviously study student First Amendment issues.