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Broadcasting Team Strives to Emulate Professional Newscast

HP Now team members anchors down fresh approach to their production process.
Photo by Zoie Carlile
News anchors John McGowan and Bo Brady speak to the cameras during broadcast recording session. This year the broadcasting team has changed their approach to become a more reliable local news source. “I want people and students, when they hear HP Now, to know that’s where you can go to watch newscasts, highlights of games and stories that were shot by students,” advisor Brandon Jackson said.

The countdown begins: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

And we’re recording.

This is how the media broadcasting team begins filming their product.

The HP Now broadcast team is a group of students who produce a bi-weekly news segment that can be found on their website. This broadcast includes graphics, commercial breaks and sports, and features stories from all around the campus.

“I really want to turn the program into something that creates consistent content in a variety of ways,” advisor Brandon Jackson said. “We really are trying to make a name for ourselves. So we just want to encourage people to check us out on the HPHS TV website.”

The 11 students strive to emulate a professional news production in both their work environment and their product.

In order to produce their show, the staff first had to learn the basics of audio and visuals production through years of prerequisite courses.

“You have to start with Audio Video Production 1,” Jackson said. “I would really like to see sophomores come in at AV1. It’s the basics of everything that we do, working with video cameras [and] basic studio production.”

After AV1, students become a part of the production staff, working during the designated class period. By their senior year, students typically take on producer roles where they lead the program.

“I’m a director and producer, so as a producer, our job is to make sure everything that needs to happen before the broadcast does happen,” senior Sam Lawrence said. “Then, as a director, my job is to basically call the shots during the broadcast and to tell people what to do if there’s anything going wrong.”

Once they finally join the team, students are required to work both in and out of class to meet their deadlines for production. Students have roughly two weeks to create their final, edited stories before broadcasting.

“The beginning and hardest part of the process is finding stories,” news anchor for HP Now, junior Bo Brady, said. “We read the activities calendar for the year probably more than any other class.”

Once a student has pitched and is assigned their topic, their two week countdown to posting begins. In that time period, students must interview, film, edit and finalize their packages.

“The whole point is we’re trying to look like a 5 o’clock or 10 o’clock newscast,” Jackson said. “We want to [cover stories] in a way that’s informative but also professional.”

This formal style is a change from previous years brought on by Jackson in his first year of teaching in the district.

“So last year, and all the years before, we had a teacher named Mr. Vasquez,” Brady said. “But he prioritized making movies or whatever you wanted to make, and learning editing techniques.”

Under Jackson’s leadership, the team has shifted from making movies to making news on a regular cycle.

“[Jackson’s] flipped upside down the entirety of Highland Park’s film production,” Brady said. “He’s prioritizing making news for the high school again.”

Jackson has big goals for the program, hoping to transform it into a place for the whole community to receive news on a regular basis.

“I want people and students, when they hear HP Now, to know that’s where you can go to watch newscasts, highlights of games and stories that were shot by students,” Jackson said.

One of the primary changes this has ushered in is a new attitude during production. Jackson expects a mature, efficient and professional work environment from his students, which has come as a stark contrast from previous years.

“Mr. Jackson has done a really good job of getting the broadcast into shape,” Lawrence said. “He’s organized a lot of the studio and helped create consistent timings [for production].”

In addition to changing the style of the broadcast, Jackson acquired new equipment for the team. The new cameras have revolutionized how the staff is able to work.

“We have eight new cameras this year, which are top of the line Canon video cameras,” Lawrence said. “Those are filmed in 4K, and that’s really improved the quality of the production.”

In the years to come the media team is determined to continue changing and growing, and is looking to attract students who are hoping to change and grow along with it.

“I want kids who are motivated, who want to maybe someday be a professional in this industry and put that kind of time and effort into the program,” Jackson said.

About the Contributor
Elaine Engel
Elaine Engel, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? I'm looking forward to the incredible community of people and the constant opportunities to work on projects I’m passionate about What are your favorite TV shows/movies? West Wing, The Trail of the Chicago Seven, and Top Gun: Maverick Where’s the next place on your travel bucket list and why? I would love to travel to Machu Picchu because of the combination of a beautiful view and interesting history