Turning students into journalists with 30hands

Eleanor Kennedy Blog

Gone are the days of newspapers being the primary source of current affairs, or families gathered around a lone neighborhood radio to receive war updates.

The past two decades have seen the ways in which we receive our news change drastically. But the importance of journalists in society? Perhaps even greater than ever. This is because in today’s digital world, everybody is a journalist.

You’re on a school trip to Washington DC and notice a mass protest taking place outside the White House? Tweet it.


Anybody can be a journalist using their mobile!

On summer vacation in Greece and notice a rubber dinghy with refugees landing ashore? Get closer to the action and live stream the action.

30hands Storyteller is a simple tool for aspiring classroom journalists.

It allows students to practice their reporting skills and even boosts their confidence when it comes to presenting to camera and recording voiceovers. It also allows them to practice gathering sources, interviewing techniques, and deciding which information is important enough for inclusion. Journalists are constantly under the pressure of time or restricted word counts, so sometimes it is impossible to report every piece of information.  Creating packages with 30hands Storyteller helps students prioritize information.

A first-person narrative is often better than a newsroom journalist’s explanation miles away from the scene. 30hands Storyteller is just another tool you can use to report your information, and one’s capacity to do so as a journalist has increased wonderfully thanks to our newest feature – video slides. But before we talk about 30hands capabilities for the professional journalist and citizen journalist, let’s talk planning. Planning is key!

For example, to report from your school’s annual drama festival, try these steps.

Step 1: Create your Storyboard. This can be done in detail, or by roughly mapping out what kind of shots you want from the festival and who you want to interview. This is the flow of your story. You can create the storyboard in the 30hands Storyteller app and replace the slides with actual photos and footage later. It is also important to have a draft of your script ready. We’ll explain why this is important in a few minutes (also, a line-by-line script in Google Docs can be imported to 30hands to create a slide for each line).

Step 2: Secure your interviews. Find out who’s the festival organizer, and perhaps seek permission to interview some of the young, talented actors. They are the real story!

Step 3: Film your interviews. It’s important to have a nice backdrop for your interviews, and also to frame them properly. Having your interviewees stare into the camera lens while they speak can be effective sometimes, but normally the journalist will stand to the side of the camera and have the interviewee speak at them.

If you are both the journalist and the camera person, just hold your camera/cellphone to the side while you film and ask the questions.

Step 4:  Shoot your B-Roll. (The B-Roll is alternative footage which helps tell the story). Remember when I mentioned the importance of a script? Now, let me explain why. You want B-roll that is going to reflect what your voiceover is saying, as well as what your interviewees are talking about. So if you record a voiceover that discusses how hilarious one act was, you want footage that reflects this. For instance, grab the audience while they are in stitches! Planning out a script in advance helps you identify photo and video shots you intend to take. Photos are also an important part of 30hands Storyteller, so don’t be afraid to snap some shots too!

British-Iranian Journalist, Christiane Amanpour.

British-Iranian Journalist, Christiane Amanpour.

Step 5: Shoot your piece to camera. The piece to camera is the part where you speak into the camera. It could be selfies that you narrate later as well. This doesn’t necessarily have to be step 5. In fact, you can film this while you wait for your interviewees to become free, or even between acts. However, filming it near the end of the event could help your script.

Step 6: Record your finishing piece to camera, if you want one. This is where you summarize or conclude while speaking into the camera. It isn’t entirely necessary, but it can be a nice touch. By finishing your package with a piece to camera, it let’s the viewer know that they are coming to the end of the video. It’s almost like a resolution to your video and a recap of information reported.

Step 7: Import your video clips and images as slides to 30hands Storyteller.

Step 8: Edit your video. With all your photos and video clips in 30hands Storyteller, it’s time to edit your piece. Drag the slides around if you need to adjust their order. Type in narration notes on the EDIT screen and record your narration of still slides with lead-ins to the video slides as needed to make the transitions smooth.

Step 9: Publish the piece as an mp4 video and share it with other students or colleagues, and teachers or friends!

In all, the 30hands Storyteller app provides students with the platform to test the waters as a journalist. As someone with a degree in the field and who has worked as a reporter for more than three years, it’s an incredibly rewarding occupation. It’s most definitely tough and demanding, but it’s also undoubtedly fun as no two days are the same.

While students might quickly find it’s not the field for them, some could discover it is their passion and aim to be the next Bob Woodward or Christiane Amanpour.

Ok now, it’s time to get reporting!


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