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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Student Broadcasters: Feature Stories Reflect Local and Global Awareness

This is the third post in a series on student television broadcasts and how such programs foster the students' academic and social-emotional development. Readers may want to read the other posts in this order:

Small Screen, Big Success: Creating a Student-Produced Television Program
Lights! Camera!: Student News Coming Your Way
On the Air: A Student's Dream Fulfilled

The creators of Ben Franklin Broadcast News (BFBN), the fifteen "founding children," wanted the content of their show to reflect the interests and accomplishments of the student body. At the same time, however, they realized that the long-term success and credibility of the program would depend upon producing and broadcasting feature stories about substantive local, state, national, and international issues that reflected the content of the school curriculum. They realized that BFBN could be a high-profile venue for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skill.

The content of BFBN would flow from the topics, concerns, issues, and challenges that were posed in the classroom as well as in the community. The link between a television program and the school curriculum gave BFBN the credibility, support, and respect sought after by the students. We thought that the children had demonstrated remarkable maturity and exceptional insight in recognizing those connections and long-term needs. Their insight has sustained BFBN for more than 3,000 shows.

Since its initial broadcast, BFBN features have included roundtable discussions among students, conversations with teachers and administrators, and interviews with nationally recognized figures. Community leaders at all levels of government have appeared on BFBN either in the studio or on location, where they offered the student reporters exclusive interviews.

For example, former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley was interviewed to discuss the issue of racism; authors Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, Carol, spoke about the writing process; BFBN asked former New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman about her views on combating teen smoking; Mary Alice Williams gave BFBN reporters insight into the world of journalism; the mayor of flood-stricken St. Genevieve in Missouri came to the studio to thank the community for its relief response; and the vice president of the New York Yankees and two television and radio personalities held a roundtable conversation in the BFBN studio to discuss the social and economic implications of the Yankees leaving the Bronx.

Over the years, BFBN has been host to numerous local and state service organizations that reached out for aid and support. Student producers created and broadcast public service announcements on issues related to drug abuse, obesity, nutrition, and smoking. In every case, the students used BFBN as a forum to express their sincere concern for the well being of their community and the world. The feature stories that appeared on BFBN through the years truly reflected the vision set forth by the pioneers.

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