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Letter To The Editor: Students Make News

The Greenburgh Student News videos will be aired tonight.

For six weeks, from July 9 to August 17, thirteen local high school and college students formed a news team at Greenburgh Town Hall. The team was "just like the professionals,” according to Patricia Lang, retired NBC News Director and volunteer consultant to Greenburgh Student News.

The summer interns who worked for the town and on the SNN project were Elizabeth Alleva, Joseph McKenny-Barshall, Ross Bialowas, Imani Campbell, Sensen Chen, Tom Cunningham, Ilan Filonenko, Seth Hershman, Ernest McFadden, Steven Moskowitz, Anuj Shah, David Schuman and Max Weiss. David Schuman took a week off to fly to California . His Jeopardy appearance will air nationally on September 25.

Early in the summer, myself and Town Clerk Judith Beville decided to launch a summer student news initiative, similar to the one that was successfully introduced at Town Hall during Spring 2012. Patricia Lang and George Malone, Greenburgh's cable access TV director, introduced the young people to broadcast journalism.

They provided the technical expertise, guidance and support to the students, essential to successfully producing final news reports. The motivation: to create, yet another, level of community involvement and community action by introducing and orienting local youth to their local government.

After agreeing to give their summer initiative the name, “Greenburgh Student News,” the student interns took pictures for news credentials and proceeded to brainstorm a list of ideas for possible news stories. While some selected individual topics, others chose to work as partners. Venturing forth to research, collect data and develop stories, weekly workshops and information sessions with Patti introduced students to terminology related to creating news stories and working in a newsroom.

In addition to getting to know each other, bonding, (developing) respect for individual ideas and input, support and offering helpful tips were evident around the long rectangular conference room table. They learned to identify their slug or story line, how to write a storyboard, an open and close as well as the lead-in, umbrella-lead or intro to their news stories.

Interns learned the critical importance of collecting, through research and face-to-face interviews, a substantial amount of information, allowing that a portion would be edited, based on the direction of their story, as well as acquiring a significant amount of B-roll (background footage) and conducting a “facts check.” Equally important was developing speaking points that have the effect of capturing and maintaining the attention of their audience. Throughout this process, some interns worked independently while others formed partnerships in the development of their stories.

As the deadline approached, those interns who completed their stories first, offered assistance to those who needed assistance with completing their projects. It was amazing as well as refreshing to hear an intern on one end of the table say, ”I’ll help him with his video piece…” or another call out, “I can help her with her editing…” and yet another shout, “I’ll go with him to hold his camera while he conducts his interview!” This was, without a doubt, team work at its best.

In the end, Elizabeth, interning with Town Historian Frank Jazzo, produced a story about Greenburgh’s historic Revolutionary War land sites and General George Washington’s meeting with General Conte de Rochambeau. Joseph, interning with the Office of the Assessor, chose to highlight the Department of Parks and Recreation where summer fun can be had by families, youth and the public. Ross, Steven and Max, interns with the Town Supervisor’s office, worked together as a team of reporters to produce a story on mulching, “…a practice that changes yard ‘waste’ into a landscape enhancement,” as described by Sensen Chen, who, along with Tom, produced an informational brochure encouraging mulching and reminding residents of the Town’s new policy to not pickup loose leaves at curbside. This brochure will be used as a mailer by the Greenburgh Nature Center.

Steven thoughtfully and generously, compiled notes from the workshops and produced a program syllabus that can be used to help guide the next group of interns. Ilan produced a segment promoting a “Greener Greenburgh” which also includes mulching. Imani Campbell and Ernest McFadden, both interns from the Theodore D. Young Community Center’s (TDYCC) Crossroads Program, interned in the Clerk’s office and Cable Access TV Department. Their stories covered the Greenburgh Police Summer Camp and program highlights at TDYCC, respectively. David’s story represents a slight departure from town specific topics as he takes his viewers into the world of education through interviews with local superintendents on new school-year start-up challenges. David also served as the news anchor who introduced everyone’s stories.

Finally, could the stories have congealed so well without the patience and extraordinary editing skills of Seth, an intern in the Cable Access TV Department? During the last week of the program, Seth was constantly in great demand as everyone scampered about to complete their news stories and calling upon his editing charms. As a model team member, he was there. They were all there for each other just like the professionals.

The Greenburgh Student News video will be aired today, September 12, at the meeting of the Greenburgh Town Board meeting.

We are now accepting applications for student news network fall semester 2012 and for student interns.

Please e mail Paul Feiner at pfeiner@greenburghny.com or Judith Beville at townclerk@greenburghny.com if interested.

I would like to express my thanks to Judith Beville for devoting many hours to the student internship program.

Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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