4 events, 19 stories: Student journalists tackle on-campus news

June 22, 2016

Four groups of high school students huddled together to prepare for their first full video assignments.


They pondered the best questions to ask, the best angles for photos and the best way to deal with troublesome tripods.


For guidance, they turned to the nine Northern Kentucky University college students acting as mentors for the Journalism in the Digital Age Workshop.  Those college students knew just what the high school students were thinking – and also how many things can happen when a journalist heads out with a video camera, a notebook in pursuit of a story.


“I’ve seen what students go through,” said Matt Sexton, a senior journalism major who spent the last year as sports editor for The Northerner. “ I was a little worried about their preparation. I was wondering: Do you have good questions? Do you know how to make the sources comfortable? That’s especially challenging if you’re interviewing young kids.”


Chris Decker, a junior journalism major, shared some of those concerns. “I was afraid they weren’t going to be prepared,” he said. “But they shocked me honestly when we got in there. They started firing away with great questions. I thought: I guess I did a good job of helping them out or they were really good at bluffing.”


Here are the stories of the four groups who reported on middle school and high school students learning about aerospace and the science behind dropping an egg without breaking it, construction plans for the Health Innovation Center and technological innovations at the Center for Applied Informatics.


High-tech center presents videographers with choices

The Virtual Reality Station, a corner of the room dedicated to creating simulated worlds through computers, looked like a good possibility. But so did the area near the 3-D printer. And the counter with all the gizmos dubbed the Internet of Things Station had potential, as well.

The five participants in NKU’s Journalism in the Digital Age Workshop  — Alysia Morgan, Lina Kaval, Vance Underwood, Nathan Davis and James Drury — hesitated a few moments. But then quickly got to work. They were in the gallery to shoot video stories about the NKU College of Informatics co-op program where college students design websites, create mobile apps and work on other technology-based projects for community clients.

The Applied Informatics Video Shoot group taking in their filming environment
Alec Reynolds
The Applied Informatics Video Shoot group taking in their filming environment

The high school students adjusted the angles on their cameras to better take advantage of the light. And they tested their framing on each other.  

Nate Weyman, an NKU student majoring in electronic media and broadcasting and acting as a mentor for the high school participants, looked through one video camera and noticed a problem. “Looks like you’ve got too much headroom,” he said, discussing the space between the top of the shot and the interviewee’s head.

Once all the cameras were in just the right places, the interviews began and the young journalists started gathering quotes about the technology projects the center produces for businesses.  

Kaval, a sophomore from Lakota East High School in Liberty Township, Ohio, said the experience brought insights beyond the journalistic techniques of conducting video interviews.

“Computer science is what I want to do,” she said. “This gives me a glimpse of what that’s like.”

Student journalists learn how to adapt to changing plans at Aero Girls camp


Matt Sexton

Jw Story talking to his subjects

Shooting video stories can be quite challenging even when things go as planned. When things don’t go as planned, as the student journalists found out Wednesday, it can be quite the challenge.

Journalists Sophia Spivey, Jw Story, Kaeleigh Taylor and Collin Trissel made good adjustments to changing plans while covering the Aero-Girls summer camp.

Students interviewed attendees at the Center for Integrative Natural Science and Mathematics Aero-Girls Camp. They discussed the science camp designed to promote girls getting involved in flight-based careers. The camp was open to girls in grades six to 10.

In addition to recording interviews with the Aero students, the journalism campers zipped around the Dorothy Westerman Herrmann Natural Science Center shooting B-roll for the video stories.

Due to conflicting scheduling, one of the interviews the students planned to do was scrapped. They also were unable to get all of the B-roll video they had planned in class before beginning the shoot.

However, the students adjusted to the changing schedule in a real-world journalism experience.

“I’m glad I got the experience,” said Story, a senior at Mason County High School. “It helps prepare me for more real-world journalism. If I get a door shut in my face I know how better to handle it.”

Trissel, an eighth grader at Walnut Hills, agreed that having to change plans made the experience more authentic.

“It would have been nice to get B-roll of the students working,” Trissel said. “If that wasn’t a thing they wanted, then that’s OK I guess.”

Despite the change in plans, Trissel said he had enjoyed the experience.

“I find it really fun, actually,” Trissel said. “I think it’s interesting to get people’s perspective on an issue or a question.”

Challenging experiences are nothing new to Spivey, who has covered complex subjects for her high school news magazine at Lakota East. The junior has had to balance publishing tough stories with trying to keep school officials from being irritated.

“At my school, we’re student-run, so we can publish anything we want,” Spivey said. “But we don’t want to irritate our principal. If we irritate the principal, she won’t talk to us.”

While there were challenges on the shoot, Taylor said the overall experience was a good one for the journalism students.

“It’s been annoyingly fascinating,” said Taylor, a sophomore at Dater High School. “You don’t know their story, but you want to get their story.”

Students battle elements to get latest on Health Innovation Center construction

While heavy rain halted construction on Northern Kentucky University’s new Health Innovation Center, student journalists got the latest information on the new building’s progress.

One of the small groups of student journalists met with NKU Provost Sue Ott Rowlands Wednesday as part of the Journalism in the Digital Age workshop.

The students asked the provost questions regarding the ongoing construction on NKU’s campus. Caroline Horvath, eighth grader at Walnut Hills, said the students felt at ease interviewing Rowlands.

“She was really funny and comfortable to be around,” Horvath said.

The students set up their cameras and sat to down to discover what the health innovation means to the development of NKU. They discovered many interesting facts about the center, like the center using mannequins similar to crash test dummies to teach college students to treat patients in different ways.

“I learned a lot about asking questions and I really feel like the press conference yesterday helped us a lot with today’s interviews,” said Grace Hall, sophomore at Mount Notre Dame.

They also talked to Tess Phinney, the sustainability manager for NKU, about the Health Innovations Center eco-friendly approach and the ways NKU is trying to become a greener campus.

“Getting the scoop is really exciting to me,” said Kyle Kruthoffer, junior at Calvary Christian School. “I like to challenge myself and I feel like I have come out of my shell a little.”

The day was full of challenges for the kids. It rained most of the morning and washed out a lot of the b-roll opportunities for the kids. Technology also didn’t work as planned when several SD cards ran out of memory.  

Even still, the students got real world experience and learned even more about interacting with people and dealing with the challenges of being a journalist.

“This was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done,” Kruthoffer said. “I have really enjoyed working with the people at NKU.”


Sydney Wege

Liz Apollonio and Tricia Gullett setting up their cameras

Young children challenge journalism students

As day three came around the corner quickly, students took charge gathering their first hands-on news story around campus. Students Andrew Davis, Sarah Krebs, Grace Engelman, Tricia Gullett, Liz Apollonio, and Lauryn Holman-Cruse explored the Early Childhood Summer Camp taking a few steps further into their journalism experience.


The journalism students not only had the challenges of shooting a video story, but recording the actions of unpredictable young children.


Audrey Wilson, director of the Early Childhood Summer Camp, mentioned having the students back next summer.


“The kids love seeing students coming in to interact with them,” Wilson said. “I can tell they enjoy watching people they look up to learn new things just like they are. It’s a good way for them to see no matter how old you get your learning will continue to grow.”


The group spent the morning getting to know the children as well as the camp directors and supervisors. They practiced filming and interviewing to get all angles of the camp to put into a final piece. After spending time reporting and watching the camp they were able to come together as a team and collaborate ideas and reflect on strengths and weaknesses.


“I was very pleased,” said Sydney Wege, a group leader. “If we gave them something to do they really took it to heart and began creating their own ideas. When we started to look at the footage and information they gathered you could tell they listened to a lot of tips and advice from mentors and professors. It’s nice to see so many of them interested in their work.”


Students were thrilled to be able to experience hands-on journalism and look forward to day four of the workshop.


“Today was a blast!” said Gullet, a junior at Henry Clay High School. “After today I realize how much work journalists have to go through to make a good story. There were a lot of situations that pushed me use new skills whether I was ready or not. I’m really excited to put it all together tomorrow and hopefully make the story I can see in my head.”





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4 events, 19 stories: Student journalists tackle on-campus news