Pirates pumped about Hartbeat News

November 30, 2023

Pirates pumped about Hartbeat News

Pirate News is a presentation of Hart Public Schools in partnership with Oceana County Press. 

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor

HART — Hart High School launched its first media class this school year, and the 24 students enrolled in the class are getting a valuable hands-on lesson about the vital role media plays in our society.

Instructor Kirstie DeVries has the strong support of the district’s tech team of Jason Gale and Phil DeBrot who not only oversee the use of the studio’s modern equipment, but also provide their broadcast expertise.

Students learn about both broadcast journalism and print media. They recently published “Small Town, Big History: Articles on Hart’s Historic Moments” in the digital Heartbeat News.

“It’s a very hands-on room,” said DeVries. “As you can see, there are a lot of conversations.” The media room pulses with activity much like a professional newsroom. “It’s never very quiet in here … until we have to record.

“Jason and Phil did a lot of research to decide what kind of equipment we needed to buy.” Gale said equipment valued at roughly $25,000 was purchased to create the high-tech news station. “We’re still kind of working on our set,” said DeVries. “Eventually, our weatherman and sports reporter will use the green screen. We will have lots of different people playing lots of different roles.”

The class is open to all grade levels, and the majority of this year’s class includes sophomores, said the teacher.

The news broadcast will eventually be available on YouTube. It can be viewed on TV monitors in the classrooms.

“We sent kids out in the field with cameras and to do interviews during all our homecoming events.”

Junior Connor Ryker mans the anchor desk with co-host Macy Riley, who is a freshman. “It’s fun,” said Ryker. “It’s definitely something new, and I like doing it a lot.” 

“It’s fun learning how to operate the equipment,” said Riley. “We have different things, like the switcher, and they operate the cameras. I get a little nervous when I’m acting as anchor, but it’s pretty fun, too.”

“In this particular project, we just had different roles throughout the group, and Macy and I volunteered to do it,” said Ryker. “Our group members wanted us to do it, too,” Riley added.

The broadcasting equipment is portable, so it can be set up in the gym for live broadcasting of sports, assemblies and other school events, said Gale. 

The tech duo of Gale and DeBrot helps out with the class daily as it “gets off the ground.” They also handle a lot of behind-the-scenes work to have equipment set up ahead of time for the media students. “They’re learning things, and we’re learning things,” said DeBrot. “They’re learning audio; they’re learning video; they’re learning equipment, editing, lighting, post- and pre-production and management.” 

“They’re learning really quickly how many people it takes to do this,” added Gale. “It’s a three- or four-week project that is cut down into a 10-minute video.”

DeBrot said the students’ personalities and talents drive them to the roles they fulfill. Some who are more outgoing usually find themselves in front of the camera, and shy students are more comfortable behind the camera.

Students are learning how to ask on-camera interview questions that yield concise responses. “You need to ask the coach something that gets a 45-second response — not three minutes.”

Students watch the broadcast production and then critique it. Was the lighting good? Were the subjects centered? Was the audio the proper volume? Are the anchors and interviewers making good eye contact and smiling? Is the camera focused? Were the B-roll clips compatible with the script?

“Our goal is to get our first broadcast out before Christmas break,” DeVries told her students. “We have to hit the ground running.”

HHS Principal Troy Moran began a broadcast club last year, which then expanded into offering a class this year. Click on the link to watch a Hartbeat News broadcast pilot production created by last year’s broadcasting club under the leadership of DeBrot and Gale: https://youtu.be/meDWS7T5q5o

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