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Project | 4-6 weeks

America's hidden histories


OVERVIEW

Americas Hidden Histories

The story of America is always evolving. How we talk about the country’s past plays a big role in shaping its present and future.

As student journalists, you have a unique opportunity to uncover and share stories of American history that are often overlooked in traditional narratives. These stories could be about the contributions of marginalized communities, lesser-known local heroes, or pivotal events that have shaped the nation in unexpected ways.

Think about people or events in your community that may have been left out of the history books but could help others understand a fuller picture of America.

Talk to older generations, ask a librarian to help you dig into old records, check out local museums and historical societies, and conduct interviews with people from your family and community.

Explore diverse perspectives and think about the new ways people are shining a light on old stories– and why they still matter today.

For inspiration, check out this 2023 story about an art exhibition on the national mall, made by high school student journalists in Washington D.C.

NEW THIS YEAR! PITCH YOUR STORY

This year, instead of submitting fully produced stories, SRL invites students to pitch their story ideas first.

PRO TIPS BEFORE BEFORE PITCHING YOUR STORY:

  • RESEARCH: Spend time doing research, talk to people you’d like to interview, and shape your story idea.
  • WATCH: this short video about pitching
  • REVIEW: this pitch example before submitting your idea.

SUBMIT YOUR PITCH:

  • Submit your pitch using this form (note: form coming in August!)

SUCCESSFUL PITCHES WILL:

  • Show clear evidence of research
  • Tell a compelling story
  • List specific people you intend to interview

If your pitch is selected, you will work with an SRL Youth Media Producer to further develop your story for publication. A team member will contact you within three weeks of your submission.

CHOOSE YOUR FORMAT

  • Profile (2-4 min. long): A profile is the story of one person. It has voiceover (VO), b-roll, pictures, nats (natural sound), it may also include interviews of family members or peers of that one person. Watch this example of a profile about an immigrant studying to become an attorney. Here’s an example of a profile of a musician who works to spread hope, inspiration, and empowerment.
  • Explainer (2-4 min. long): A video explaining a concept. Often it includes a host/narrator speaking directly to the camera. The tone could be serious, funny, or informative. Watch this student-produced example of an explainer about how music affects your mood. Here’s another example of an explainer about AI and college admissions.
  • News package (3-5 min. long): Video stories about newsworthy issues and topics. A news package has factual information, balanced reporting, research, voice overs, multiple interviews with people sharing different perspectives, soundbites, b-roll footage. It may also include things like infographics, a reporter standup, nats (natural sound from filming b-roll). Watch this example of a news package about a new law in Hawaii requiring schools to provide free menstrual products. Here’s another example of a news package about a program to help provide incarcerated people with access to higher education.
  • NAT package (2-4 min. long): A video story guided by the natural sound from interviews and the environment where you’re filming. Natural sound, commonly known as “NAT sound,” puts the viewer in the place the story was told by enhancing the scene(s) with video containing rich audio such as a musician singing at a train station, a storm approaching, or the sound of a tractor plowing the field. This kind of story would often not have a voiceover narration. Here’s an example of a nat package about two Italian immigrants who own a pizza shop.
  • Social Media (60 - 90 sec. long): Short video that tells a cohesive story with interview bites, b-roll footage, graphics and/or voice-over, cut vertically for social media. Watch this example of a social media video about two teens in Maryland who started a composting organization. Here’s another social media video about a teen from Ohio who eats bugs.

HOW TO SUBMIT TO PBS NEWSHOUR STUDENT REPORTING LABS

Spend time doing research, talking to people you’d like to interview, and shaping your story idea. Watch this short video about pitching and review this pitch example before submitting your idea.

Successful pitches show clear evidence of research, tell a compelling story, and list the names of specific people. Submit your pitch using this form on or before Friday, November 14, 2024.

Examples

Journalism

Journalism is the activity of gathering, assessing, creating, and presenting news and information.

Source: American Press institute

Issue

​​A subject or problem that people are thinking and talking about

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

Community

A group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood). It can also be a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.

Source: Merriam Webster

The Framing Effect

In news media, when storytelling presents a “frame” or window into important events or topics.

Stereotype

A simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group; a set form or convention

Source: Dictionary.com

Diversity

The condition of having or being composed of differing elements. Especially in the context of the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization

Source: Merriam Webster

Inclusion

The act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (as because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability)

Source: Merriam Webster

Perception

Awareness of the elements of environment through physical sensation or intuitive cognition. A capacity for comprehension and understanding.

Source: Merriam Webster

Human Interest

People are interested in other people. Everyone has something to celebrate and something to complain about. We like unusual stories of people who accomplish amazing feats or handle a life crisis because we can identify with them.

Story Angle

In news, it’s a story’s point or theme. It's the lens through which the producer or writer filters the information they have gathered and focuses it to make it meaningful to viewers or readers.

Source: ThoughCo.

Audience

The people who read, watch and consume news. Often, journalists think about audience and newsworthiness in similar ways. How will the news story serve their local or national audience? Who am I writing the story for and why?

Character

A person or other physical being in a narrative. Stories are made up of different characters who provide information and help shape the narrative with their knowledge, experience and perspective.

Pitch

A description of what your story might be and WHY it’s important. An outline of your story idea and the steps to achieve your goal. A summary of what you hope to accomplish in your story

News package

Video stories about newsworthy issues and topics, factual information, balanced reporting, research, voice overs, soundbites, b-roll footage, infographics, reporter standup, nats (natural sound bites).

Video profile

The story of one person, has voiceover (VO), b-roll, pictures, nats (natural sound), interviews of family members or peers of that one person.

Explainer video

Narration and/or voiceover (VO) with a host, commentary, research, personal experiences, explanations, infographics, nats (natural sound), music, entertainment.

Research

An investigation into and study of sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Story Arc

An example of using a little person to tell a big story. For example, you want to tell a story about pollution in your community’s water system. That is a big issue. Your video will use the story of a person (character) to illustrate the effects of bad water quality.

Hook

An attempt to grab the reader or viewer’s attention with interesting information that will keep them reading or watching.

Accuracy

Free from mistake or error. Coverage of topics and facts in appropriate detail.

Writing - Research to Build and Present Knowledge

Perspectives

Historical understanding requires recognizing this multiplicity of points of view in the past, which makes it important to seek out a range of sources on any historical question rather than simply use those that are easiest to find. It also requires recognizing that perspectives change over time, so that historical understanding requires developing a sense of empathy with people in the past whose perspectives might be very different from those of today. (NCSS D2.His.4.9-12 - D2.His.8.9-12)

Empowered Learner

Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. (ISTE)

Determining Helpful Sources

Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources. (NCSS D1.5.9-12)

Historical Sources and Evidence

Historical inquiry is based on materials left from the past that can be studied and analyzed. (NCSS D2.His.9.9-12 - D2.His.13.9-12)

Demonstrate writing processes used in journalism and broadcasting media.

Writing - Text Types and Purposes

Gathering and Evaluating Sources

Whether students are constructing opinions, explanation, or arguments, they will gather information from a variety of sources and evaluate the relevance of that information. (NCSS D3.1.9-12 - D3.2.9-12)

Plan and deliver a media production (e.g., broadcast, video, web, mobile).

Topics

Journalism

Representation

Stereotypes and Misconceptions

Civics

History

Active Prompts

Levels

Beginner

Intermediate

Materials

Computers

Internet

Estimated Time

4-6 weeks