The freshly renamed Sawyer News Network (SNN) recently extended its reach beyond districtwide in-school broadcasts by jumping into the world of social media. Last November, SHS-TV faculty advisers had outlined plans to expand the reach of the high school’s morning news show to include the district’s four elementary schools. Those plans have now come to fruition.
“We were SHS TV for the past three years maybe,” said Saugerties High School business and computer video production (CVP) teacher Scott Wickham. “But we wanted to encompass the entire district as far as our morning announcements go.”
Last week, the daily broadcasts began incorporating news stories for all four elementary schools alongside coverage of the junior and senior high school. The information was collated from a Google Doc file accessible by any administrator or teacher in the district.
“If they have something coming up, they let us know,” said Wickham. “Right now it’s just trial-and-error, but I really think it’s going to catch on.”
Over 100 students are involved in the CVP program. Fewer than 20 of those are in the broadcast journalism class that produces the morning news reports. Two or three minutes of morning announcements are taped early in the period and then broadcast into first-period classrooms and elementary schools, and posted to the school district’s official YouTube page.
The broadcasts are also being shared on the Sawyer News Network’s new Facebook and Instagram pages, which in addition to showcasing the work of the students in the broadcast journalism course will serve as a new source of information and communication between the school district and the community at large. The program is an area of focus for first-year superintendent Kirk Reinhardt.
The district’s own official Facebook page will remain an active news source for parents and the community as well. In the event of a snow day, for example, information will be posted on the district’s Facebook page and official website.
The news covered by SNN broadcasts is still a work in progress, with the high school’s CVP and broadcast journalism programs looking into ways to further utilize available technology to add to districtwide coverage. Footage from new automated Pixellot cameras in the high school gym and at the primary athletic field installed for live-streaming may be used to provide visual highlights alongside sports reporting. Clips from lip syncs and other events, and even rehearsals, are also likely to appear in future broadcasts.
“I mean, the kids do great work here,” said Wickham. “It’s just as important for us to, to not only tell them about the work that they’ve done, but also the work that they’re going to do, whether it’s a play at an elementary school, the lip sync, or marketing other district events.”
In order fully to integrate districtwide news and video, the SNN may sometimes expand its daily broadcasts to ten to fifteen minutes, though Wickham acknowledged there are challenges in attempting to create longer episodes with multiple clips in the same amount of time they have now.
“We’ve talked about doing that like normal news newscast and we want to emulate that sort of work,” Wickham said. “But to do it in 40, 44 minutes though, is a bit challenging.”
The Sawyer News Network can be found on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SawyerNewsNetwork) and Instagram (@SawyerNewsNetwork), while the district’s official Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/saugertiescsd.