Linden High School continues TV news show amid coronavirus outbreak

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LINDEN, NJ — As the famous show business saying goes, “The show must go on.” With that in mind, broadcast students at Linden High School have taken a page from the book of journalists around the world, who have had to learn to cope with working separately to get their jobs done during the COVID-19 outbreak. Learning from the best, those students are continuing to carry on their TV news show even while working from home during this tumultuous time.

Since school buildings were closed because of the coronavirus, students in the school’s TV/digital media advanced class — along with all of their schoolmates — have been learning from home since March 16. After a week of becoming acclimated to the unpredictability of this situation, the students decided it was time to get the news cameras rolling again.

LocalSource spoke with some broadcast students as they navigate the new avenues of carrying their news show, Tiger News Today, from home. Up to their own devices, students filmed their segments with their own cell phones and cameras and edited with iMovie, software provided on MacBook Air laptops, which the school district gave to all students at the high school.

Despite running into technical hurdles, the teachers and students were able to power through and complete their first show, while gaining positive experience for the next.

“I sometimes host the news but I mostly film or do interviews,” 16-year-old LHS junior Katherine Flores told LocalSource on April 3, regarding TNT News. Flores has been a part of the TNT team for one year and produced the first segment of the news show the students created from home.

“Carrying the show from home is very sad,” Flores said. “I like being in my normal studio with my classmates. We usually have a studio with nice cameras and lights. At home, I don’t have the usual supplies. The outbreak affected the news show negatively and positively. It negatively affected the show because sometimes the sound isn’t right, or the lights are too dim. This is something that wouldn’t normally happen in our studio. A positive outcome is that we are all putting in our best efforts even without our supplies. We are very thankful that we have iPhones and laptops, because, without these supplies, we wouldn’t have a show.”

Junior Chisa Torto, age 17, an editor for TNT News, aspires to pursue digital media after high school, as well as a career with the U.S. Navy, where she plans to be a naval public affairs officer.

“This is my first year being part of the digital media team and I am enjoying every bit of it,” Torto said. “I was concerned about how our digital media would be able to work on TNT News due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but I believe this has brought us all closer together and has allowed me to further my knowledge and expand my imagination on ways to edit and how to capture moments. I realized that many of life’s technologies can aid one who is working on having greater visual perspective. Using my Canon PowerShot, Nikon B500 and a 4K 60fps video camera, I practice in my home every day to expand on this skill. Having an iPhone 11 doesn’t hurt either.”

Senior Ryan Sautner, age 18 — who’s been involved with TNT News since September 2019 and plays many roles, ranging from the talent to editor to cameraman to lights and sound for TNT News — is planning to attend college for theater and wants to keep TNT News on his resume.

“I feel the same responsibility, if not a little bit more,” Sautner said April 3 about continuing the program while at home. “The difference is that our news shows are now shown to the entire district and anyone who follows the Linden Public Schools Facebook page instead of just our high school. Working from home is a little different, but we now get to work with our computers and everything else at home. I now am able to record myself talking from my phone that’s in a phone clip on my mic stand instead of having cameras in the studio. Editing is also easy, as we all have iMovie on our laptops, so thankfully we were prepared for something like this to happen.

“I feel as though the outbreak doesn’t change the situation. If anything, the only situation that it affects is being able to collaborate in the studio together and create new things,” he continued. “It really doesn’t affect us though because we all stay in contact with each other and get work done. Technology today makes staying home and filming 110 times easier and less of a hassle.”

Their first show from home included features on how to stay safe from COVID-19, how to cope with remote learning, and a report on the district’s initiative inviting families to post uplifting artwork in windows and doors for the community to see.

“I am so proud of how all of the students worked together to get the news show done,” teacher Chris Paskewich said. “It was definitely a group effort. While working in the classroom, we like to have control and we can oversee the progress of how the news show is coming together. This was nerve-wracking for me because of having to wait to see the finished product, but overall, I was impressed with how well the students completed the show.

“I am so proud of our TNT News students and how dedicated they are to producing this show,” he continued. “The students definitely stepped up to the plate, from coming up with their ideas, filming and editing the segments together, and even hosting the show. They helped each other and worked together as a team to get the show done. They certainly amazed me.”

“We just gave them a very general idea on what to make their news segment about because we weren’t sure exactly how well this would work,” said teacher Gary Miller, who is also the district’s communication coordinator. “They came up with their own ideas, filmed them, edited them, and it came out great. We were so happy with how it turned out.”

The first show was posted to YouTube on March 31 and was shared with staff and students at the high school.

Photos Courtesy of Gary Miller