Observer TV News is the broadcast arm of TorontoObserver and TorontoObserver.ca, part of the Centennial College Journalism program’s multi-platform news site. The stories and content are produced by students in the Journalism program here at Centennial.
By the time students reach their final year, and final semester, they take an intensive 15 week Television News Course—their only one in their entire time with us—where they learn advanced shooting, basic lighting, video editing with Final Cut Pro 7, and advanced broadcast writing skills so they can put together full television stories that run about 1:20-1:40. These stories are structured just like the ones you watch on any supper hour t.v. news show. They also are repurposed as mobile content for computers and mobile devices like cellphones.
These stories then are uploaded to our YouTube Channel, Centennial Journalism’s you tube channel..like this one by Kerry Prunskus on the U of T’s accapella singing group called Tune Beats Awesome.
Kerry Prunskus piece on Tune Beats Awesome
They also learn to work the control room equipment located in our newsroom in room 149, and at the end of the course, they produce several 20 minute long live-to-air television news shows. With full t.v. makeup, suits and ties, and the intense adrenaline pressure of meeting a live deadline.
These broadcasts for Observer TV News are the culmination of all their writing, and anchoring, and storytelling skills in news, sports, weather, entertainment, and commentary. Their final newscasts are broadcast live to air, on Centennial On Demand, warts and all, no matter what, but then are edited afterwords, cleaned up, and uploaded as videopodcasts to our You Tube Channel, and to Centennial On Demand, for their employers, parents, and the general public to see.
On these broadcasts, not only do we broadcast the day's news, local, national and international, but also, showcase the stories which our students did during the semester, using the Panasonic cameras, or new high def Canon Vixia cameras we have added to our inventory of equipment to prepare the students with skills they will need in the journalism world when they go on internships at the end of the course, in January.
The skills they learn during that course also help them in their other academic work, as they can shoot video for their magazines which they are creating, or for their career management course as they build their own online resumes and portfolios in order to secure an internship and a job.
This year, the college IT people installed new Macs into rooom 149 with Final Cut 7 editing software in it that can accept files right from the portable cameras, so the newsroom here became a real multiplatform newsroom where students can write, edit, and broadcast all from the same spot.
Here is one show from December 3
Observer TV news student Aleksej Nesterins shot a new opening for Observer TV News, aired for the first time in December …the music composed by his brother.
And we are now able to use proper lights – Lowell Lighting kits—purchased as part of this year’s capital budget and used by our students for the first time this fall.
Some history. When we first taught this course several years ago out of the bigger Broadcast and Film RTV studios, we used the old standard definition cameras, and we were able to broadcast live through the Internet through Centennial’s Ondemand site from there.
But since we built our own smaller City-tv like newsroom and control room down the hall in 149, three years ago, we didn’t have the capability to “go Live” for real, as there were no cables to connect us to the RTV studio down the hall. So I faked it for several years. Live to tape. But it didn’t give the same classroom experience to the students.
This semester, I begged staff to find us a solution. But nothing worked with the computers and gear we had. We bought a bit of new gear, and were able to borrow a laptop and on the municipal election night, October 25, 2010 while the online Toronto Observer print students were posting articles and stories from across the city to their site, Observer TV went live with our journalism program’s first ever televised election night specials. We had three shows, about 10 minutes long, with anchors Deeana Charrion, Kris Baker and Dan Heyman reporting in with the lastest results and the surprisingly quick Rob Ford victory.
Most students love the TV experience, and it turns some of them on to the possibilities of on-air work in tv journalism, although most came to Centennial planning to be print or magazine journalists.
Some shy students never completely accept t.v. but they do all go on air, and do all the positions in the news room, and find that when their friends and parents see them on air LIVE, or watch their stories on demand..their satisfaction is enourmous.
One thing to mention is the patience and undestanding of my colleagues in the journalism newsroom, who have to dodge cables, and duck under lights, and keep quiet when they try to manouvre around the cameras while we are on air. The studio sits right in the main portion of the newsroom, and the control room is on the other side of their offices, so on tv class days, working around us is always hectic and noisy. Especially with me yelling commands and barking orders at the directors to start on time. So thanks for your putting up with all of this, for the good of the students.
This week, we reached a very important milestone for Observer TV. One that will permit the journalism program to expand it’s use of Live broadcasting all year round.
Thanks to IT and Christine Deering, we have now installed a nice new Mac PC beside the control room. It has enough guts to be hooked up to that fancy white box which permits us to broadcast live to the Internet through Livestream…and we tested it Wednesday and it works perfectly. The gear will stay permanently hooked up, and anyone in journalism or the campus who wants to broadcast interviews with guests, talk shows, panel discussions, or…in my bucket list of dreams, I’d like to have a daily TV newscast or programming by students for students…much like the Internet Radio Station which Ted Fairhurst built, with Live TV shows streaming right from our newsroom.