8/7/2012 10:30:00 AM Hopi High broadcast program chosen as one of 37 PBS Student Reporting Labs Sites throughout the country School is sole PBS site in Arizona
Hopi High’s Stan Bindell (holding PBS booklet) on the PBS NewsHour set with other teachers in the NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs Site program. Photo/Courtesy of Stan Bindell
Hopi High’s Stan Bindell with PBS officials Leah Clapman, Thaisi Da Silva and Imani Cheers. Photo/Courtesy of Stan Bindell
Stan Bindell The Observer
ARLINGTON, Va. - Hopi High School's broadcast program has been chosen as one of 37 Public Broadcast Service's (PBS) Student Reporting Labs Sites throughout the country and the only one in Arizona.
The selection of Hopi High as a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs site means that the program will help Hopi High with funding and mentoring for news broadcasting. Some of Hopi High's students may end up providing segments for the PBS NewsHour or on its website.
Leah Clapman, managing editor of education the PBS NewsHour, said Student Reporting Labs is excited about getting reports from Hopi teens in the near future.
The Reporting Labs program recently held a conference in Virginia for the teachers who will be involved with the program during the next year.
"The school has a unique perspective on the issues of education and what engages kids, and your videos will offer real insights to the rest of the country," she said.
PBS Program Coordinator Thai Da Silva found Hopi High by researching schools with diverse Native American student bodies.
For more than a decade, PBS NewsHour Extra has been publishing Student Voices, with written stories and photographs by teenagers from throughout the world showing how the news impacts young people.
"When it came time to ask teens to file video reports, however, we found that video journalism ethics and production skills were severely lacking," Clapman said. "So, we began Student Reporting Labs in 2009 with six sites throughout the country. The idea is that for kids to produce quality video journalism that they need a strong curriculum, teacher support and mentors who can support the process from the start to finish. That's what we've developed over the past three years."
Clapman said PBS NewsHour is also building a case for better broadband connectivity in schools throughout the nation. She said video and community partnerships are broadband intensive, but well worth it.
"As a nation, we have to invest in that infrastructure to take advantage of all the learning potential available through technology and project-based learning programs," she said.
Clapman said PBS NewsHour is trying to build better citizens.
"I want teenagers to understand the complicated media universe they live in, and to be able to construct better narratives, to tell their side of the story and to feel empowered with their community," she said.
Clapman said PBS NewsHour wants to construct a learning experience for teenagers that gives them the skills to become content creators - and not just cat videos - "real journalism that investigates important topics."
Clapman said students will learn critical life skills through this program as they talk to adults, solve problems, evaluate information and think critically about what's going on in their community.
"Have you ever prepared to interview an expert on camera for a video report?" Clapman continues. "It's incredibly hard and exciting. You find out what you don't know and you react to the conditions on the ground, learning far more than on a test or paper."
Clapman said project-based learning involves using research and media production with a purpose. Students will also have an authentic national audience on the Student Reporting Labs Website.
Clapman said PBS does well with young kids learning to read and adults interested in public affairs, science and arts programming, but not so well with those in between. In order to stay relevant with the communities they serve, public television stations have to forge bonds with young people, schools, educators and different sectors of the population.
"In addition, these kids have great stories to tell," she said.
Clapman said because of the PBS Reporting Labs the NewsHour has fresh sources throughout America.
"We regularly turn to the teachers and students when covering political, environmental, economic and other stories," she said. "Our producers and reporters visit the schools whenever possible and are constantly reenergized by the students' enthusiasm."
The stations are also building relationships with the schools and showing that public media is different from commercial media outlets.
PBS recently held a conference in Virginia for the teachers who will be involved with the PBS Student Reporting Labs during the next year.
Clapman said the conference was fantastic.
"This is a great bunch of teachers and even those who have never done video journalism before fed off each others' ideas, sense of mission and deep knowledge of how to engage students," she said.
Clapman said the PBS Student Reporting Labs are important because so many parts of society are facing grave challenges.
"Education is in crisis with studies showing failing schools, an inability to adapt to new technological cultures, different workforce needs and modes of learning," she said. "Journalism is in a crisis with a broken business model and everyone scrambling to figure out what works in the new digital landscape. Student Reporting Labs can't solve these problems, but can be a positive force in the search for new ways of learning and new sources of journalistic voices."
Clapman said most schools with broadcast programs focus on school sports and campus news. While that's fine, this program allows the students to do much more as they ask the school programs to think big and tell important stories that can add depth and a new perspective to the national conversation.
"Student Reporting Labs has the potential to spark curiosity in teenagers who are not inspired by tests and papers," she said.
The funding for the Student Reporting Labs program comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for reporting about the dropout crisis and the National Science Foundation for reporting about science issues.
PBS will be looking for more funding sources during the coming year.
PBS officials hope to visit Hopi High in late August or early September.