PBS NewsHour Offers Student Reporting Opportunities Journalism as a form of teaching and learning - that's the motivation behind the Student Reporting Labs project hosted by NewsHour Extra, an online educational branch of the PBS NewsHour, formerly the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Funded with a $300,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Student Reporting Labs are designed to have student groups produce in-depth video reports on issues selected by NewsHour Extra. In the inaugural video project, conducted during the fall semester of 2009, students were asked to produce a piece on the Supreme Court. Each reporting lab site was given B-roll tape from the NewsHour to work with, and students took the project in whatever direction they chose. For many, this involved reporting on Supreme Court cases as they related to the students' own states and communities.
More recently, in the second round of Student Reporting Lab videos, high school journalists were asked to tackle the issue of climate change. Many Student Reporting Lab groups chose to venture into their communities to learn about how climate change is being addressed in their backyards, while others looked at possible consequences of climate change on a global scale. One Philadelphia-based student team explored how their school system addresses environmental concerns by tracing its everyday practices, such as paper printing and recycling. Another student reporting group from Austin, Texas interviewed a green home builder to find out what is involved in low-impact living.
There are currently six active Student Reporting Lab sites across the country, including schools in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, D.C. and Salt Lake City. Leah Clapman, managing editor of education at NewsHour Extra, says that the PBS NewsHour is gathering student perspectives on national and international news stories through the Student Reporting Labs project and its other student journalism initiatives.
"I see reporting as a form of learning," says Clapman. "You need to really understand a topic to conduct an interview or explain it to a national audience. It’s a much different learning process than studying for a test and it is a very powerful motivating factor for young people."
NewsHour Extra's other offerings for students and teachers include a full current events Web site with news stories written for a tenth grade reading level, lesson plans for teachers, student-produced news pieces and essays, and a daily video blog based on the PBS NewsHour's coverage. The site can be found at www.pbs.org/newshour/extra.