Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School and Ke Kula Ni‘ihau O Kekaha are two of 50 schools in Hawai‘i taking part in “Hiki No,” or “Can Do,” the nation’s first statewide student news network airing on PBS from February through April 2011.
Chiefess multimedia teacher, Kevin Matsunaga, said the public broadcasting station plans to run the student broadcast once a week the first year and six days a week the following year.
“Hiki No will create a network of student storytellers who will take us into their communities and humanize the issues that concern them,” wrote PBS managing editor, Sue Yim in an e-mail. “We’re excited to have Kevin and his students at Chiefess Kamakahelei among the first on board as a Hiki No school.”
Students produce their own news stories — doing all the legwork including interviews, narration, filming, editing and graphics. The beauty of this project for Matsunaga is the creative control PBS is allowing these up and coming newscasters to exercise over content.
“PBS says we are the vehicle and that they are not there to tell us what to shoot,” he said. “PBS maintains the quality standards but all the content comes from different schools around the state. (Middle and high school students) in public, private, charter or home schools can participate.”
The first year stories will be broadcast in half-hour segments at 6 p.m. weekly. Yim said the stories “must meet PBS fairness standards and uphold journalistic standards as required of stations with broadcasting licenses.”
Matsunaga sees this as an opportunity for his students to refine their skills as reporters as well as raise awareness of events shaping their community.
“The vision is there and now we have to figure out what to do over the next year to prepare,” he said.
Matsunaga and his students are ready to rise to the challenge. Since the school opened in 2000 they’ve produced a televised news program during morning advisory where leadership students write and present the script. Announcements that used to stream through an intercom are now televised — delivered by two student newscasters. More than just administrative content, the leadership students animate their broadcast with contests, games and birthday wishes.
This week Kevin and his students are attending a week long television network national convention in Los Angeles, Calif. with fellow media students from Kaua‘i and Waimea high schools. Among the many activities students will participate in are anchoring workshops, commercials shot live in a Hurley surf shop and break-out sessions with media professionals. The cherry on the proverbial sundae is the “Sweet 16” where students are challenged to create an entire show in 16 hours by either building a news show around a topic provided or completing an unfinished story. Last year Chiefess students chose to complete the unfinished film.
“But this year we’ll focus on news because of Hiki No,” Matsunaga said.
To follow the progress of the students at the convention visit their blog at cktv-mediaproducitons.com.
To make tax-deductible donations to Hiki No visit pbshawaii.org.