When WCPO published news about driver’s education in Cincinnati, the students of Hughes STEM High School understood the issue well. After all, they were the ones who produced the story.
The TV station advised two students as they created their own news segment. A part of the E.W. Scripps Company’s News Literacy Program, the purpose of the assignment was to educate students about the work involved in producing news so that they may better identify trustworthy sources of information in the future.
WCPO journalists Paola Suro and Maddy Schmidt worked closely with twelfth-grader Isaiah Cowins and tenth-grader Justice Ferrell, two students from Ms. Melissa Sherman’s PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs class. While Suro and Schmidt may have been the professionals, it wasn’t long before Cowins and Ferrell were the ones running the show.
“Once the creative process started, these kids just blew them away,” said Tim Kraus, a media producer and retired educator who assists Sherman’s class. “They were put in a high-pressure situation and rose to the occasion.”
Throughout the brainstorming process, the team worked together to identify a newsworthy topic that mattered to the greater Cincinnati community and could be appreciated by fellow students. Ultimately, the subject of driver’s education was an easy decision.
“It is so important that we get [to have]driver’s education opportunities,” Cowins shared. “The public roads are already dangerous enough; you don’t know who’s behind the wheel on the other side of the road. Drivers education gives us a chance to know what to expect on the road and get comfortable.”
After identifying the topic, Cowins and Ferrell mapped out their story arch and structure based on the principals they learned from Sherman’s class. When it came time to shoot, Cowins said that she learned a lot from her WCPO counterparts:
“They taught me how to be flexible and creative with [my]shots and how to work the camera. I’ll definitely use the techniques they taught me in this classroom and beyond.”
Speaking on the unique experience WCPO provided, Ferrell said that it was “a really great way to get involved in our environment and community. Seeing the big picture, learning what issues are out there and what kinds of questions need to be answered.”
Sherman’s class isn’t new to the news spotlight. For years, it has partnered with PBS as a student reporting lab, releasing news dispatches like this one online. According to Sherman, however, getting to partner with WCPO was extra special.
“This was career tech at its finest because the students were so passionate about what they were doing,” she said. “When the stakes are higher, and they know the feedback they’re receiving is coming from unbiased industry experts, it makes all the difference in the world for them.”
For more information on Hughes STEM High School, check out https://hughesstem.cps-k12.org/.