Be Prepared: Yes, I Was A Boy Scout

On any really important assignment – Be Prepared.  Today, our school conducted a car crash reenactment called Shattered Dreams.  This event took about six weeks to plan and we not only were responsible for capturing images and video for our TV show, magazine and web site – but also for the second day of the presentation.  So we could not have a bad day.  It is not like shooting the second home basketball game – there won’t be any more chances to get it right.

So, what should high school journalists and their teachers do to get it right?  Have a plan, make lists and execute.

We were included in all of the planning for the event today.  We were also asked to create mock newscasts, obituaries and film and produce two short segments.  This didn’t include recording today’s event.  So we needed a plan.

First, we made a list of all the tasks to be done and their deadlines.  Second, we staffed every task with volunteers.  Now sometimes I handpicked the volunteers, but they were all told just how much fun this assignment would be.  Third, double up on everything.  (Like NASA, we don’t take chances – always have a backup).  We had two video cameras and two digital still cameras on every assignment.  Two reporters, two VJ’s (video journalists), two anchors, etc.  This also meant twice the equipment.  Fourth, make a list of the equipment you need for each day and have it ready on the day before.  This means charging batteries, cleaning video heads, erasing memory cards, cleaning lenses, having tape recorders for the print side, extra tapes, extra memory cards, extra mics, tripods, reporter’s notebooks and pens.  Leave nothing to chance.

Next, sit down and go over all the rules with your staff, go over their questions and shot ideas.  Discuss blocking and framing with the photographers and VJs.  Discuss questions and who to interview with the reporters.  Don’t forget to talk about wardrobe too.  Reporters should be dressed professionally – we had pro media there today from stations in the #4 market in the US.  Photogs and VJs need to be professional, but comfortable – staff shirts and blue jeans.

Then trust your kids to do a good job.  Watch them, but don’t hover over them.  Let them shine.

Today my kids did great.  They got great video and great pictures.  They were everywhere they needed to be to get a good story.  One of my students edited a segment, while others were working on today’s story.  It all came together perfectly.

Plan. Prepare. Execute.   When you have a one of a kind event at your school, you’ve got to get it right the first time.

Mr. C

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