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At least 12 local media organizations set up formal staging areas in Golden Hall Tuesday night, but the largest media presence, by far, was one CHSTV.
Its production and reporting team was some 40 strong, and most of them fanned out across the swarming election night headquarters, maneuvering with cameras and microphones through the colorful masses that gathered to watch returns.
What media organization can afford to send 40 people to a single event, you ask?
That would be the ninth- through 12th-grade class of Doug Green, a Carlsbad High School teacher who runs Carlsbad High School TV, an elective class for students interested in working toward careers in broadcast news production.
Green has taught broadcast since the 1990s, and somehow, through sheer relentless hounding, he secured an unlikely spot for his class on the floor of Golden Hall on election night. His class’s equipment rivaled that of any professional news organization there. His class will produce a 15-minute election special that will air Wednesday morning. At the end of first period.
CHSTV is one of San Diego’s highest-tech versions of the homeroom school announcements of yesteryear.
“They’re excited and eager to be doing this,” Green said as a girl primped the long blonde hair of one of her classmates preparing to go on camera. “Not like a lot of these other guys who are burned out and just want to report their stories and get out of here.” He motioned next door, to the staging area for KGTV, Channel 10 News.
Green’s students were wide-eyed and giddy. Some were editors and producers. The others split up into teams of reporters, each assigned a race to follow. They decided to focus on their local school board election, the Carlsbad mayor’s race, and three state propositions, including Proposition 19, to legalize marijuana.
“For some reason that one has resonated with high school students,” Green said.
Others were looking for personal stories in the crowd, among the cast of unpredictable characters they expected to show up at Golden Hall.
“We’re hoping someone shows up dressed as a pot leaf,” said Brent Roach, a tall, thin, baby-faced senior who, through a vote of his classmates, was selected to co-anchor the night’s broadcast.
This is exciting — the lights, the cameras, the cheers and spontaneous outbursts of applause from crowds of sign-wielding political junkies, the reporters dressed in suits. But isn’t it nerve wracking?
“No, not really,” Roach said. “Plus, it’s not live, like most of our shows. So we have a couple of takes.”
“It’s going to air tomorrow morning. We don’t have the signal to carry it all the way back to Carlsbad,” said Trent Ryan, an editor.
On any other day, it’s a live production lasting only 10 minutes. The news team relays the important news of the day: varsity sports results, today’s lunch special. It’s broadcast from a makeshift classroom studio and beamed to Carlsbad High School’s 3,100 students and to more than 70,000 homes in North County via Time Warner Cable, though Green conceded it doesn’t have a huge audience.
The Election Day special’s a little different. Before night’s end, the team of roving reporters was to come back, cut and edit their news pieces, and submit them to their peer producers and editors for final judgment. Only about half will make the cut. The broadcast can’t last more than 15 minutes, and they have to leave room for Wednesday’s lunch specials.
“There’s not really hard feelings if your piece doesn’t make it,” said Ryan, a junior. “Just motivation to get better.”
He’s the brains of the production. He cuts and splices the final package that will air at 9:17 a.m. Wednesday.
One of the reporters, a boy named Matthew Kaiser, walked up to Ryan as he fiddled with editing software on his computer.
“Trent, what time do I have to get my story in if I want it to be in the show? 11?” he asked.
“No!” Ryan said. “We’re gonna be done by 11.”
Ryan looked at his watch. “That’s in 15 minutes.”
Ryan spotted a bag of chips in Kaiser’s hands.
“Hey, keep those on the down low,” Ryan told Kaiser.
“Some union thing,” Ryan confided. “If we want food in here we have to cater it or something. So we’re just keeping it a little hidden.”
“We have to eat,” Kaiser chimed in. “We’re high schoolers.”
Please contact Adrian Florido directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido.