The Saxon Scope

Broadcast Journalism

Nikki Cheshire

Broadcast students film a news segment.

Nikki Cheshire, Staff Writer

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Chairs scrape across the floor as students snatch their favorite spots in this untraditional, deskless classroom. Mirroring the format of TMZ’s studio, students scrawl ideas across a large whiteboard as they are shouted out.

Room 101 lies in a semi-secluded corner of the school, and is well known for the play posters that cover its walls, the stage that takes up the majority of the classroom, and the lone couch pushed off to the side. It’s so well known for its involvement in drama that it has been dubbed the “Theatre Room,” and its location has come to be common knowledge. But last year, a different set of students found themselves sitting in the deskless classroom for class – and it wasn’t drama class. It was Broadcast Journalism.

The inspiration for starting a broadcast journalism class came from Mr. Ragone. After having done a similar program at Chantilly, Ragone teamed up with Ms. Jaffe, the theatre director, to institute the broadcast program here at Langley. “There were a few misunderstandings at first as to what the content should be,” explained Ms. Jaffe, recalling the slight troubles the program had starting off. She went on to explain that there had been some confusion in the past about whether the broadcasts should be news oriented, or be more like mini-movies. “We’ve switched our focus to news this year, though,” she added.  However, there will also be some feature pieces on Fridays.

But despite the semi-seclusion of the classroom, the Broadcast Journalism class is hardly a well-kept secret. “It gets crazy in there,” said junior Alanna Dent, a Broadcast Journalism student, describing the constant business and non-stop noise that buzzes out the classroom door. “Everyone’s everywhere. Usually we’re all on different schedules trying to get our projects done for deadlines and stuff.” Dent also mentioned the occasional setbacks of technical difficulties. “One day it took us forever to get the video onto the laptop from the SIM card. It was ridiculous – the laptop just wouldn’t work.”

Luckily, there are a few alternatives to the school laptops available to the students. In the corner of the classroom, three widescreen Mac computers sit perched on a couple long tables. But this isn’t the only equipment required to run a successful studio. HD cameras (though they don’t broadcast using HD), along with editing software are used to ease the process of making a show. “The Macs and the software were funded by Fairfax County,” said Ms. Jaffe, explaining that Fairfax County has a budget for new classes, and provides them with funds to get started. “The cameras were paid for through donations from Theatre parents,” she said, adding how grateful they were for the money.

The class, which accepts sophomores, juniors, and seniors, “really is a learning experience,” said Ms. Jaffe. “It’s not that students are hand-picked; they have to learn how to do this stuff. Next year, we’ll have more Broadcast 2 students to help the new kids learn their way around.” The students’ primary focus is to present announcements for the student body in a fun and interesting way. The show is taped “so we don’t have to worry about technical difficulties or kids being inappropriate on camera,” said Ms. Jaffe.

Some key changes this year involved bringing attention to the new daily program, “Saxons on 6” as opposed to last year’s weekly Friday showings of mini movies. One way to promote the new program, said Ms. Jaffe, was to put the Saxon Scroll on channel six so teachers wouldn’t have to switch back and forth between channels, and also to include “bings” (similar to those the tones that sound before morning announcements) before presentations of Saxons on 6

“We also are going to get a green screen soon too, so we can put any picture we want behind the students,” Ms. Jaffe said with a smile. “That way we can put up a newsroom-like format, like you see on News 4 or Fox 5.”

“Another exciting change is that we’re going to do senior birthdays, but hopefully with baby pictures,” Ms. Jaffe exclaimed. “And it’s not just seniors getting their birthday announced – it’ll be everyone. But only seniors will get their baby picture on screen.”

“People just need patience,” Ms. Jaffe went on to say. “It’s exciting, and we’re catching up, finding our identity. We’re less journalism and more of a feature film video class. But the potential here is incredible; we hope to make people smile – with our own, humorous twist.”

Additional reporting and writing done by Aimee Cho

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