For the students, faculty, and staff at Jesuit High School, Thursday morning means watching the JTNN homeroom livestream broadcast.
For those in Jesuit's Digital Communications course – the students who produce the weekly JTNN show – every day is important in getting a segment to air.
In 2016, JTNN – the Jesuit Tigers News Network – became linked to Jesuit's new Digital Communications class. Attaching JTNN to a course (as opposed to a club) has helped improve the quality of content because a class grade is at stake, and it has increased proficiency in creating broadcasts due to the instructional aspect of the course. (This school year a second Digital Communications class has been added that focuses on the online newspaper and yearbook.)
The foundations for creating JTNN content are covered in the first quarter of the school year. Students learn how to operate cameras and microphones, work with lighting, edit with Final Cut Pro, livestream to YouTube with Wirecast, and create basic news stories. While many assume the younger generation has innate technological prowess, it takes practice and instruction to learn and master complex applications such as editing and broadcasting video.
"It's amazing how much the program has evolved over the past few years," said Mark Lennox, Jesuit's Educational Technology Specialist and the teacher of the Digital Communications class. "We went from broadcasting JTNN out of a closet in the library to having our own studio, classroom, and dedicated equipment in this phenomenal building (Gonzmart Hall). We're all grateful for it, and I think it shows how much the school is doing to make this the best program possible for the students."
Near the end of the third quarter, students work on a project called Everybody Has a Story. For the project, they select any student, faculty, or staff member at Jesuit and apply the techniques they've learned over the course of the year to create media that tells that individual's story. The underlying purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate that interesting stories are out there, everywhere, and can come from anyone if the right techniques are applied.
Students submit finalized content in class on Wednesday for the Thursday broadcasts – each week's show is live, studio hosted in the new Gonzmart Hall digital communications area, and features taped segments – and immediately begin working on the next week's program. The 17 students, all juniors and seniors, break into four groups and are randomly assigned news, sports, entertainment, or a skit as their segment topic of the week. Members rotate groups so the same students don't always work together.
Typically, two segments will make it to air that week, one news piece and one comedy piece. Storyboards for each segment are written in the first two days and then the rest of the week is filming and editing.
Recently, a group of JTNN students created a comedy sketch that highlights Jesuit's new theology teacher, Nathan Doerr. Ryan Iverson '19, D.J. Infante '20, and Matthew Smith '20 wrote, directed, filmed, and edited. In the segment, which parodies the situational comedy and the "mockumentary" style of shows like "The Office," Doerr plays a fictionalized version of himself who purposefully creates distractions for his students during class, then charges them to retake exams. This is a stark contrast from Doerr in real life, who offered his time to create the piece and provided friendly contributions and constructive criticism during filming. The segment is expected to air on Jan. 24.
View a photo slideshow below of Digital Communications students creating a segment: