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Understanding the pre-production phase and process


Students will explore the various ways professional journalists prepare for multimedia broadcast projects. When new students first begin multimedia broadcast projects, their first inclination is to grab a camera and go. Alternatively, students should learn from the very beginning to create deliberate plans before they ever pick up a camera.


  • Students will determine the purpose of a project.
  • Students will determine who your target audience for a project.
  • Students will determine the location(s) of a project.
  • Students will schedule locations for use of a project.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


200 minutes or five 50-minute classes


Slideshow: Understanding the pre-production phase

Handout: Pre-production assessment & rubric

Pre-Production quiz and key

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Talk to your students about the different reasons why they have or want to create multimedia products. These products can include videos, websites, digital images, etc. Also, consider that many of the multimedia products students have created may be simply because they were required assignments.

2. Think-pair-share — 20 minutes

Ask for student volunteers to describe a story about their past weekend. Then, ask other students in the class to give an account of the volunteer’s story. They should consider whether the story had a beginning, middle and end.

3. Present — 20 minutes

Talk with your students about your suggestions for taking notes and remembering important details about stories. Divide students into groups of 2-3. Ask them to tell each other a story of something they did just as before.

This should take you to the end of your first 50-minute session. It will challenge your students to take good notes and remember important details for the following day.

Day 2

1. Follow-up — 20-40 minutes (depending on the size of your class)

Without giving your students an opportunity to meet up with their partners from the day before, students should be asked to take out any needed notes to give a presentation on their partners story from the day before.

Students should then present their partners stories. Ask the person who is having their story told to not reveal whether or not the story teller is getting their story correct.

2. Discussion — 15 minutes

Ask members of the class to tell the class whether or not their class members got their stories correct or not. If not, ask them to talk about how the different details may or may not have really changed the story as it was told and happened.

3. Work time — remainder of class

Assessment 1 – Who, What, Where, When, How

Day 3

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Ask your class to think back to the last two-days of storytelling that has taken place in your class. Pose the question, “Where any of the stories newsworthy?” If so, where they newsworthy for the school broadcast? Where they newsworthy for the local media?

2. Think-pair-share — 20 minutes

Divide the class into small groups of 2-3. Consider having them be in different groups than the last time. Then, ask each group to come up with their best five newsworthy events that will be taking place at the school in the near future. Each group should have a member write their top five on the board so the class can compare.

3. Present — 10 minutes

Lead the class in a discussion to determine which five events that are listed on the board from all groups to determine the five stories that your broadcast would choose to air.

4. Discussion — 10 minutes

After the class has chosen what they think is the top five new stories. Ask the class to discuss each story and answer the following questions about them:

  1. What is the purpose of the story?
  2. Why do they need to know?
  3. Where is it taking place?
  4. Who is the target audience for the story?

Day 4

1. Building background — 15 minutes

As a class, create a project proposal for one of the news stories that your class selected as a top five the day before.

The class should be able to answer the following:

  • What is the title of your project?
  • What is the purpose of your project?
  • How long will your proposed story be?
  • Who will you need to interview for this story?
  • What is the essential information? (aside from information you may learn during interviews)
  • Where is the location of the story?
  • Do you need special permission to film in this place?
  • How long do you estimate you will need to film?
  • How long do you estimate you will need to edit the story?
  • When does the story need to air by to be relevant?

2. Think-pair-share — 20 minutes

Divide the class into small groups of 2-3. Ask the groups to come up with a project proposal for each of the remaining four stories.

3. Discussion & Follow Up — 15 minutes

Once each group has finished, then you can create a project proposal for each news story. This will be a good opportunity to have a discussion about the time that time it takes to create stories and make sure the entire class is on a similar time structure.

Day 5

1. Building background — 15 minutes

After setting and and getting a project proposal approved, it is important to make sure students walk into any interviewing-type situations prepared and knowing what to look for.

To do this, they will create an outline. An outline is a functional document that guides students through the production process. Again using one of the top five stories you selected before analyze the story with the class and answer:

  • Where should this story start? (Where is the first place you will go?)
  • Who are the key players? (Who are all of the people that you will interview to get all sides of the story?)
  • How will this story likely end? (Will this story discover something, or are you reporting on a run of the mill event?)
  • What do we need to make sure we acquire footage of? (Make sure students understand the concept of B-Roll or footage that reinforces the main interview or A-Roll.)

2. Think-pair-share — 10 minutes

Divide the class into small groups of 2-3. Ask the groups to come up with three questions that must be answered to make this story successful. The group should also think of possible follow-up questions that might be asked in response to answers the interviewee might give. Then, the group should come up with a list of possible ways the camera operator could get B-Roll.

3. Discussion — 20 minutes

As a class, discuss the outline of the remaining four stories to ensure each member of the class has a firm grasp on the process.

4. Follow-up presentation — 5-10 minutes

To reinforce the entire process students have learned this week, review the idea of scheduling with your students and the fact that scheduling in schools is different than in the outside world.

5. Assessment — No Camera Necessary

Have students complete the No Camera Necessary assessment.