Building Digital Citizenship Through Student TV Broadcasting

Media saturation dominates what adolescents experience on a daily basis. News and information within a vast ecosystem continues to impact their worldview. As they digest and strive to better integrate, synthesize and understand this information there is a growing need to help them navigate the world as digital citizens.   “Digital Citizenship, and a growing  awareness of the need to teach young people how to better understand and recognize media influences, are fast becoming an essential part of the curriculum in high schools across the United States as they prepare for college and beyond,” said Mark Lukasiewicz Dean of The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University.

While teenagers grapple with the challenges of living within a global audience of media proliferating in the digital world, they must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to decipher the material they encounter. They must also develop skill at producing such material for a wide variety of applications in society. Putting the tools of media production in the hands of high school students and having school communities develop a better sense of how those tools are used properly and with integrity comes with a process where they are actually using it while learning about it.

One avenue to explore this process in action is how schools are developing Student TV Broadcasting Programs.  While these programs vary in size and scope they all feature the ease with which secondary students can collaborate with one another to produce digital media stories that serve their learning communities. In 2017, when looking in the New York metropolitan area for a way to both celebrate and inform these student TV storytellers, writers, producers and technicians it was observed that little was out there in terms of bringing them together in a forum-like gathering.

It was in that year (2017), that a group of teachers and school administrators launched a new initiative to meet this need. With a handful of high schools in Suffolk County, New York the Broadcast Awards for Senior High (BASH) was created. BASH offers students an opportunity to showcase their project based work in digital media broadcasting and learn from experts in the media/journalism community.

A variety of specific categories are recognized at BASH including best broadcast, best anchor team, best sports package, best public service announcement to name a few. Over the years students also gathered to hear from industry experts including national tv correspondents and television producers giving them insight into the roles and responsibilities of professionals in media and journalism.

Having survived the pandemic by offering a virtual event in 2021, BASH now moves its location to Hofstra University, site of three U.S. presidential debates (2008, 2012 and 2016), and home to The Lawrence Herbert School of Communication, one of the region’s largest undergraduate communication schools and the most sophisticated university TV teaching and production facility. The event this year is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 15, 2023.

WABC 7, a local affiliate of ABC television, is co-sponsoring BASH, along with Newsday, a New York area daily newspaper.  With a circulation of about 400,000 Newsday is the 12th largest newspaper in the U.S. Together with Hofstra University as the location, BASH brings real world expertise directly into the forefront of their learning experience.

BASH will now attract more than 25 individual school districts (from three NY counties) with over 400 students and teacher advisors who are expected to attend. An event like BASH should become the norm rather than the exception in terms of access for any school community. It is the goal of BASH to help lead the way for school communities across the country to gain access to a model for regional programs like this that provide the dual functionality to both celebrate and educate students in this growing and important area of study. “A well educated citizenry of the 21st century includes a broader definition of literacy that goes well beyond the written word, harnessing technology to communicate and better understand the world around us,” stated Jason Wesnofske, a technology teacher at Southold Schools, one of the founding members of the team who developed BASH.

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