Monday, September 23, 2013

An Inside Look at School News

Your Principal comes to you and asks you to start up a news broadcast at your school.  What do you do?  Where do you start?

Well, it seems like I have been living this dream for a couple of months straight now and want to share some tips and tricks with you on what I have done as I talk with schools.

Now this is just what I have done and by no means is the end all be all of setup processes but maybe you can pick up something along the way.  I will be breaking this up into a couple of blog articles because I can get pretty wordy, and I want you to come back.

So according to this scenario where do you begin? Well, at the beginning of course.

Where do you start? Let’s talk about what you need to have to get things going.  What kind of equipment do you need to have to do a newscast?

Actually this is the easiest part of the whole process.

Really, you might be thinking, yes it is.

So what should you have? Do you need to buy anything?

Whoa, hold on now let’s just take a look at what you have right in front of you first before we start trying to go through that long buying process that every school system has.

(At the end of the blog I will put in some other additional things that you could use to create a newsroom.)


A camera that’s it, that’s all, nothing else.

I am not talking about a Digital or Polaroid camera; I am referring to a video camera.  What type of video camera do you need?  That’s easy depending on what type of computer you have it, might be right in front of you.

Yes I am talking about a Web Camera; you know the one that is built into your laptop or one you may have purchased to go with your desktop computer.  I am of the firm belief of using whatever you have access to before buying anything.

So you have your webcam what else?  You do need to make sure that your webcam does have a built in microphone that is important.  If it does not then you will need to have access to a microphone that can plug into a computer.  I will explain a little more about sound in just a moment.  OK you have the video camera w/a microphone what’s next?

Now you need a space.


You want to make sure that you have an area set aside to be your newscast location.  It can be anyplace you have available in the school. A small area set aside in a classroom, Media Center or one of those wonderful Cafegymnatoriums.  (It took me a couple of years to be able to pronounce the word.)

The ideal location would be one that is separate from high traffic areas like a dedicated room.

I know that this is not common for most schools, so use what is available to you.

Now that you have figured out what space you are going to use what’s next?  My suggestion would be some chairs and maybe a table, a table is not always necessary though.  As long as you have a comfortable seat for your students to sit that is all that is really needed.

In this area I would also try to eliminate, as much as you can, any additional noises by using what is available as a sound break.  You could use partition walls, book shelves, mobile coat closets, desks, carpet squares, rugs or anything else that could create a noise barrier.


Now that we have our equipment and a location to broadcast from how do you get the news out to your entire school?  There are many ways to do this; I will outline a few of them that have been successful in our schools:

  • A quick and easy way is to just record the newscast with the students and then post the video up for the school to see at a later time.  To do this you will need to have a computer with some sort of recording software on it.  If you are using a PC you could use the built in Windows Live Movie Maker, or if you have a Mac you may have iMovie which you can use.  Both software applications have the ability to record from a video camera and then each have some tools for editing and saving the video to your computer to post for all of the students and teachers to see.
  • A second way is to use an online resource to show the newscast live.  A website that allows you to do this is Ustream.TV, the site allows you to live stream video and audio over the internet as long as you have a network connection from the computer your webcam is attached to.  You will have to set up an account on the website for streaming but it is free at least the last time I used the site it was.  You will set up the station to watch, make sure that the camera is connected and visible by the website.  Then you will get a link that you will send out to the school for classrooms to click on and watch.

Ok I mentioned before about sharing some other ideas for Equipment, Location and Broadcasting.  These are the beyond the basics of what is listed above:


  • Video cameras:  Camcorders, singular or multiple to use with a video changer for multiple camera angles.
  • Sound: Sound boards to allow for multiple microphones whether wired or wireless.


  • Room:  A studio room that is already sound proof and wired for the equipment.
  • Broadcasting:  Closed Circuit Systems can be used if available or a web-based broadcasting system.

This is just a small start to get a newscast going in your school.  Over the next couple of weeks I will talk more about the behind the scenes things that need to be done with student expectations and some interesting tools and techniques you can use to make your newscasts more interactive and fun so stay tuned for more.