Orange County students producing student newscast from home amid coronavirus pandemic

A group of journalism students at one Winter Garden middle school is making it their mission to keep their classmates informed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Students in the video production class at Bridgewater Middle School are still producing a student newscast called Bobcat News despite doing distance learning from home.

“At first I was scared,” 14 year-old Isabelle Gandica described her reaction when her teacher first approached the class about continuing to record a newscast. Gandica co-anchors the newscast that originally airs live during the school day.

But since students started learning from home, Gandica and her 14 classmates do weekly video conferences to plan the show, recording their segments separately. The videos are uploaded to Google Drive where another student edits the program.

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Gandica said, “It’s different to record the news at home because normally we have a countdown and an intro before we go on and it’s live in school.” She now records her segments in her backyard and has faced some new challenges. “I’m out there for like an hour because I keep messing up so it gets really hot... At home we have to make sure we have good lighting so that our face is lit and the audio is good.”

“The kids have really stepped up under these unique circumstances and are putting together a product that’s really impressive,” said Gandica’s video production teacher, Andrew Inches.

He said his eighth-grade students have been reporting on relative stories. They have interviewed a news reporter in New York City about working during the coronavirus pandemic and two students in Hawaii on how they are dealing with the coronavirus. Inches said his students are also getting creative with shooting video. “You’ll see different unique camera set-ups. A lot of things are being shot, especially with the field pieces, on their iPhone and they’re able to get different unique angles.”

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While unprecedented, Inches said he hopes this experience helps his students to think outside the box. “I just hope it gives them an opportunity to… approach problems in a different way and to give them the flexibility to say I don’t have to follow the same format that I always use and that different way of approaching it might actually be better.”

Bobcat News releases new episodes every Friday at 10 a.m. on its YouTube channel and will continue to do so until the school year ends.