New technology, new newscast: Student broadcast at Fairfax Co. school undergoes major upgrade

Virginia

CENTREVILLE, Va. (WDVM) — Around 8 a.m. every morning, students at London Towne Elementary School tune into their newscast, WLTS, from their classrooms.

In the studio, a student counts down the anchor, sitting at a table with a TV monitor serving as a teleprompter. Then, one of the crew members yells, “Quiet on the set!” and the cameras start rolling.

The broadcast has been going on for over a decade, but the studio recently received new upgrades that are taking the production to the next level. The newscast only lasts about 7 minutes but requires a lot of preparation.

“They are often times previewing the scripts, the day before, making sure no edits need to take place,” said Jennifer Becker, instructional coach at London Towne Elementary.

The young journalists at WLTS wear many hats, trying their hand at different roles in production.

“We’ve got someone running the slides, changing the background behind our anchor, we’ve got someone controlling technology, and sound,” said Becker.

Learning a new role is challenging enough, but throw new technology and a pandemic into the mix. WLTS began having the students create their own videos, and incorporated Zoom to stream the newscast to classrooms, ditching the old system of running physical cables into TV projectors.

“It’s a little difficult, because I have to look at the slides because she’s going to cue me, and look at the person doing the ATEM, because they’re going to turn the mic off for me,” said Lieimy Hernandez-Lopez, who currently serves as the anchor at WLTS.

Students and teachers say it’s more than just learning a new role in broadcast news. News crew staff foster other leadership skills, such as communication, and relationships.

“I think it’s a great way to communicate and know technology better,” said Taylor Martinez-Rodriguez, WTLS crew member.

The broadcast has positive ratings, with teachers saying their students engage with the newscast and on-air talent while watching from their classrooms.

“We’re just really proud of the news crew, taking on this challenge with the new technology, taking on a leadership role in the school, and being great models for the students and staff around the building,” said Becker.

WLTS has become a leading example for other schools in the district, they’ve been offering their tips and tricks on how to produce the perfect newscast.

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