While some cherubs spend their Sundays sleeping, being with friends or polishing their articles, others practice their skills in areas of journalism not covered in weekday lecture. At blog, video and audio club meetings each Sunday afternoon, students get creative so they can show their work to their fellow cherubs at Sunday night club presentations.
Write Off, or blog club, is an opportunity for cherubs to reveal their emotions and experiences in 300 words or less. Instructor Mary Lou Song provides participants with topics like “hope,” “chance” and “The Seven Deadly Sins.” After composing their stories, the cherubs face peers and instructors from the stage and read their posts.
“I think it’s important because it’s a form of storytelling that lets them be creative, expressive and informative, and the only difference is that they can use ‘I’,” Song said. “I love that they’re inspired to discover their stories and their journeys and to share those journeys and experiences with other people.”
Instructor Jean Williams prepared exercises for the bloggers, such as drawing out a map of a childhood home to bring back memories or using adages from fortune cookies as story prompts. The bloggers like the chance to break from the third-person, straight-facts style of news writing.
“It’s short and simple,” said Alyssa Fisher, of Florida. “It’s sort of like a conversation with someone, and you get to break all the rules we’ve learned here and use voice.”
The format of Write Off is new for 2011 in an attempt to tighten the blogs into more powerful writing that cherubs can incorporate in personal blogs or high school publications.
“I used to just give topics out and people would write about that,” Song said. “But this year I really tried to make myself available for all the students to really turn their work into something that’s publishable.
“I think that this year’s pieces were much more thoughtful, they were better written, better organized, they had better stories to tell.”
Show Off, or video club, gives cherubs the opportunity to practice broadcast journalism by shooting and editing video. Each week, several producers go out with cameras and tripods to ask cherubs questions like “Who inspired you to become a journalist?” and “What will journalism look like in the year 2030?”
Instructor Sarahmaria Gomez assigns jobs to club members and acts as head editor for the final video content.
“Video journalism is increasingly important in the journalism world, and we like to create multimedia journalists who are not only good at writing but who are also good at audio and video storytelling,” Gomez said.
The editors for the week meet on Sunday afternoons at 1:30 to edit the best footage of the week. The final product is shared with cherubs on Sunday night. Show Off is a cherub favorite, showcasing serious and lighthearted responses.
“It was really funny to get all the video that other people shot and see all the stuff that they didn’t mean to capture on camera,” said Danielle Sorcher, of Connecticut. “You see every movement that a person does, you see all their facial expressions and their emotions are right there in front of you.”
For a finishing touch, Gomez adds captions to some of the video to amplify funny moments.
“I just thought that in some ridiculous cases adding a little comment would make it funnier or point things out that other people wouldn’t notice,” Gomez said. “Sometimes it’s a hit, sometimes it’s a miss.”
Sound Off, or audio club, allows cherubs to try recording audio pieces for a story. Similar to Show Off, cherubs use voice recorders to capture their fellow cherubs’ thoughts on topics such as what they miss most about home. Sound Off participants edit their own material and create an audio story rather than editors grouping all the audio into one piece.
“First, you come up with an idea, and then you go around and get interviews,” said Jesse Dembo, of New York. “You put them all on the computer and then you cut down your interview into sound bites that you might want to use. Then, from those, you figure out where your story lies, and then you cut your clips some more, put them all together and then you have your story.”
Sound Off lets cherubs use more advanced technology that they may not have access to at home and to produce more professional stories.
Dembo said, “I thought it was really cool to be able to test everything out and put together a story that I’m proud of.”
Audio is important in journalism because it offers a different perspective.
“It’s really humbling to just listen and hear all the sounds that are going on around you that maybe you didn’t notice before,” community associate and Sound Off instructor Lindsey Kratochwill said.
Dembo advises cherubs to try audio club regardless of how much or how little experience they have.
“I’d say definitely go for it,” he said. “Even if you’re not good at editing, if you have a passion for audio and radio definitely do it because the rest will come.”