Green screen, podcast coming to West’s journalism, media studies program

Posted 10/7/22

Eric Zhang, a senior in Jay Jones’ media studies class, describes himself as an editing guy. He likes picking soundtracks to go along with video footage and capturing a variety of appealing …

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Green screen, podcast coming to West’s journalism, media studies program


Eric Zhang, a senior in Jay Jones’ media studies class, describes himself as an editing guy. He likes picking soundtracks to go along with video footage and capturing a variety of appealing shots.

“My favorite part of editing is the creative process behind it,” said Zhang.

Zhang spent the last three years in Cranston West’s journalism and media studies program which consists of journalism 1 and 2, broadcast journalism and media studies.

“What I like about the class [media studies] is moving around, exploring the school and capturing shots of student life,” Zhang said.

This year, the program is creating a green screen and podcast space for students in an old editing area attached to Jones’ classroom. Individuals are filmed in front of the green background and a separate background can be filmed and added to the final image. Jones, who runs the journalism and media studies program, and Cranston High School West Principal John Fontaine brainstormed how to recreate the space which previously held cubicles and desktop computers. According to Jones, once students received laptops, the space became unnecessary.

The spruced up space will include several chairs, a love seat in the corner and a podcast desk. Additionally, there will be a green screen and backdrop in the space; the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center’s (CACTC) construction academy is conducting the renovations.

With the evolution of media, the space gives kids opportunities to use their skills in ways that new technology offers.

“I’m excited to help facilitate this,” said Jones.

Currently, the room’s floor is currently being worked on, and Jones said the project should be completed by mid-fall.

The journalism and media studies program has a variety of learning opportunities and projects for students such as working on the West Wind newspaper, West Watch (TV broadcast), video yearbook and Media Club. The content created is critiqued by students in the class, refined and then shared with the school’s students and faculty. Additionally, students are required to cover one sports game at the school and can sign out one of the program’s two (soon to be three) cameras. Jones said students use editing tools such as iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Photoshop, Phonto and Prompter People. Students take Jones’ journalism and media courses as electives or because of their interest in the field.

Sophomore Gisele Rotolu is in her second year of the program and said last year she worked with a partner on creating a music video for “Summer Nights” from “Grease.” She recorded the guys’ part at the Garden City Center gazebo and the girls’ part in a friend’s bedroom where they all did their hair and picked out clothing.

Rotolu originally took broadcast journalism to improve her writing but found she enjoyed being in front of the camera as an anchor where she would read from the teleprompter and later edit the script.

Like Rotolu, senior Molly Fitzgerald also enjoys being in front of the camera and is considering a communications major with a concentration in TV production. Two weeks ago, Fitzgerald and classmates were working on voice overs and sound on tape. Together they analyzed broadcasting clips and looked at how much of the clip was voiceover versus a live clip.

Students have also used their skills to complete community projects. Senior Tia DePalma said last year students met with Cranston Early Learning Center’s Director of Early Childhood Charlene Barbieri to create a welcome video for parents. Students spent several days taking videos, refilming and presenting Barbieri with the final product. Senior Hailey Davis helped with a similar project where Jones’ students interviewed CACTC pathway kids – asking what they liked about their career and tech program; the footage was compiled and made into an iMovie for open house.

In addition to the journalism and media studies program that has approximately two dozen students, Jones runs the school’s Media Club every Tuesday which consists of 30 students. Lela Starr has been part of the group for several years and enjoys the club’s editing component – especially adding music to the sports footage which fits the game’s energy.

“It’s cool to see how it all comes together,” said Starr.

Journalism 2 student Nathan Rojas is Media Club’s executive chief for layout and design. One of his recent tasks was interviewing West’s new principal and designing the copy so it could be sent to students and faculty.

One of students’ more recent tasks in media studies this year included creating a one minute movie without words; the focus was on using a variety of tight, medium and wide camera shot types. Jones showed the videos in class, followed by critiques.

Some of West’s graduates who have gone through the journalism/media program that have become successful in the industry include Tom DeNucci, Nick Sczerbinski and Allie Melillo. One of the school’s alumni coded an app for the journalism and media studies program.

“So many people who go on to have important roles in life are willing to come back to share Falcon pride and give back to the community that gave so much to them,” said Stephanie Kaffenberger, English department chair.

Moving forward, Jones would like to see the cafeteria’s TVs working again so the school can play the student broadcasts from West Watch on the screen. As for now, students and faculty look forward to the new green screen and podcast space.

journalism, media