Cub Reporters: from novices to news naturals

By Andrea Ray | May 18, 2017
Courtesy of: Deb Stinson The sixth-grade members of Sippican School's Cub Reporters

Marion — The Cub Reporters are always on the prowl for a good story.

The fifth and sixth-grade media news team is based out of Sippican School. For about 10 years, the reporters have recorded interviews, all-school meetings, short movies and other special events. They’ve interviewed teachers at Tabor, and the crew of the Hokulea, a Hawaiian canoe sailing around the world. (The crew was impressed by the Cub Reporters’ skill and efficiency.)

“We do everything,” said fifth-grader Lila Bangs. “We write the questions, operate the camera, test the camera, compose the shot and find any props.”

“Some of them really like to be in front of the camera,” said program advisor Deborah Stinson, “but others find they really like being behind the camera, where they call the shots.”

This year, there are only two fifth-grade Cub Reporters, but a gaggle of sixth-grade reporters are gathered in a small media room. “It always goes like that,” Bangs shrugged. “One year it’s really popular, and the next year not many people are interested.”

Stinson began the program nearly 10 years ago when ORCTV wanted more programing at the elementary school level. A video journalism teacher at Old Rochester Regional High School at the time, Stinson moved to splitting her part-time hours between Sippican School and the junior high, where she coaches another team of veteran Cub Reporters.

“Last year, the Cub Reporters altogether produced 95 shows,” she said. “When you consider that I only teach 110 days of the school year, that’s nearly a show per day. Then you also have to consider the time spent teaching, training, shooting, editing, and getting the final product on air.”

The students have their own reasons for liking the program. A good percentage of the group said that being interviewed by previous Cub Reporters sparked them to join the program themselves. Bangs said that she always wanted to be on camera, as did sixth-grader Kathleen Dunn.

Currently the reporters interview students from different grade levels about weekly events. “We’ve asked kindergartners about their Color Week, and other students about Spirit Week, or MCAS testing, or spring break,” said sixth-grader Nolan Gibbons.

Now, though, the two grade levels are both developing their own mini-movies. The fifth-graders are scripting, storyboarding, designing and acting out a ghost film, while the sixth-graders are planning to produce a spy flick.

“We spend some recesses in here, getting work done,” Bangs said.

Stinson says that the work is worth it to the students. “It empowers them. It gives them not only a voice, but interviewing and presentation skills. They learn critical thinking, collaboration and technology.”

Teamwork and technology are some of the most important skills in the current job market, and are likely to remain there for the future. “Ninety percent of jobs in the future will involve those two skills,” Stinson noted.


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