Monday, May 9, 2011

How Next Season’s Story Nearly Became Breaking News [Video]

A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where
American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon
on Sept. 11, 2001. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army
I'm getting ready to start cutting my first package for the next season of Classroom Close-up, NJ, It's a story about the 9/11 curriculum developed for New Jersey public schools entitled "Teaching 9/11". It will intentionally air around the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, but I'm not planning to make it into some kind of retrospective of the events. Instead, I'm going to talk about the process of developing the new curriculum and how teachers were involved. I'm also hoping the story can dispel reservations people might have about the curriculum by showing a bit of it in use. I'm pretty sure our cameras are the only ones that have been inside the classroom while any of these lessons were being taught.

I could go into a lot of detail about how the curriculum is more than a simple set of social studies lessons, but I'll save that for the actual story. If you want to know more right now, John Mooney over at NJ Spotlight has written some great articles on this same topic, including his most recent one about how the death of Osama Bin Laden will impact the 9/11 curriculum. That was defintiely one of the first things that went through my mind when I heard the news last week. As of now, I don't think the news is going to have much of an influence on my particular story since I'm trying to keep the focus on educational aspects.

However, last week was a clear example of how just how fast a story can change. Timeliness isn't usually a big factor for Classroom Close-up, NJ. Our stories often air weeks after we tape them and sometimes, as is the case with "Teaching 9/11", it can be five months or more. That's a far cry from the breaking world of news, as I was quickly reminded when Princeton Patch asked to me go out and get some local reactions to the Bin Laden story. No cushy thirty day post schedule for this one, just go out shoot it, and get it online as quick as you can.

If you're interested in public education and/or hyper-local news, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook and the Princeton Patch Facebook pages and click the 'Like' buttons! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.