This year at the Republican National Convention (RNC), media
is swarming. Nearly 5,000 journalists and media-types from news networks such
as CNN and CBS and others around the world are taking refuge in miniature
newsrooms all across the Convention Center and the Tampa Bay Times Forum. NBC
is one of these many stations that are here at the RNC making sure that they
get the information their viewers need to know. Luckily, fellow Kid Reporter
Topanga Sena and I got a behind the scenes tour of this major news network’s
NBC runner Daniel Johnson took some of his time to lead us through NBC’s makeshift workspace at the Convention Center and the sets at the Forum where their talent air live reports. The first one we saw was the set for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams at the Forum. It looked over the event floor where the delegates sit and guest speakers address them. It creates a realistic backdrop. Many editors and directors sat behind enormous monitors recording and editing footage from the Forum and interviews with delegates. They were also creating graphics for the live show, like name bars to run at the bottom of the screen. When Topanga and I visited, the anchors were not present in the room so we got to sit in the broadcasting booth!
NBC also has another network called Telemundo for worldwide productions and the Hispanic population. At the Telemundo booth, we got to meet producer Marcos Santana. He told us about Telemundo and how it airs all over the world and is broadcast in Spanish instead of English. Sadly, we were not able to sit on the set this time, but we were able to see where the talent sits to broadcast. Before we left, Mr. Santana told us he would see us in a few years on NBC!
So, in the end, that thought-out and put-together show that NBC airs for the RNC is filmed in various places and times all over the Convention Center and the Forum. Even though it may not seem like much space to film entire segments, NBC has some of the most rooms occupied in the center, according to Mr. Joshnson.
Obviously, NBC and every other news network this year is prepared for the RNC.
Photo: NBC runner Daniel Johnson gives Kid Reporters Shelby Fallin and Topanga Sena a tour of NBC's workspace at the Convention Center. (Dante A. Ciampaglia)
More than 5,000 members of the media are reporting from the Rebublican National Convention here in Tampa, Florida, and I’m one of them! I lucked into this plum assignment as a member of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. I live Orlanda, which is about one hour away from Tampa\. Along with fellow reporter Shelby Fallin, who lives in Lakeland, Florida, I am here for three days of politics and reporting.
We are staying at a home near the convention center. Our first stop on a busy first day—after parking at a downtown church—was to pick up credentials at a nearby hotel. We then walked to the MSNBC broadcast booth in an offsite shopping plaza to wait to be interviewed. Everything is fairly close, but the weather is hot and muggy, so it can be tiring. We are also pelted with rain in short bursts about once an hour.
Shelby and I were ushered into the MSNBC makeup area, where we we got the royal treatment from facial cleanser to lipstick to eyeshadow and mascara. The makeup person then rubbed a nourishing lotion in our hair to make it shiny for the cameras. It was exciting!
And then, just as we were about to go on live TV, we were bumped. Ann Romney, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s wife, was speaking, which was originally scheduled for the night before. Because of Hurricane Isaac, the convention speaking schedule is continually changing, so you never know what’s going to happen next. Tomorrow, they told us, come back tomorrow.
We finally arrived at the convention center where NBC is letting us set up shop. One of the runners there (a college student from Princeton) gave us a grand tour of the center and the Times Forum building where the convention is actually being held. The convention center and Forum are two different buildings. We ride in small buses between the two venues.
The NBC workspaces are beautiful, but really small. We visited the set for Telemundo, CNBC, and NBC affiliates from all over the world.
We are now back in the NBC media space eating a great dinner of turkey meatloaf, chicken picatta, and cheesy mashed potatoes before going into the hall to hear tonight’s keynote speaker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Photo: Kid Reporters Topanga Sena (front) and Shelby Fallin in the make-up chairs before heading to the MSNBC set. (Dante A. Ciampaglia)
We are now accepting applications for the 2012-2013 Scholastic News Kids Press Corps! To be considered, your application must be postmarked by October 12, 2012. NO LATE APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED.
To apply, applicants must complete and mail ALL of the following:
* a typed news article (maximum 400 words) about your community. The article must include at least two quotes from at least one interview.
* a typed essay (maximum 250 words) that answers the questions: Why do you want to be a Kid Reporter? What do you hope to learn as a Kid Reporter?
* two ideas for stories about people making a difference in your community that you would like to work on as a Kid Reporter.
* a basic background information form that lets Scholastic News Kids Press Corps editors know more about you and help us select a diverse group of kids from all over the country.
* a Student Release Form (form provided by Scholastic must be completed and signed by your parent/legal guardian).
* a recent photograph of yourself that, if you are selected as a Kid Reporter, will appear on the site when we announce the new Kid Reporters (this can be a color printout or an actual photograph, but we cannot return any submitted photographs).
To get started, download the 2011-2012 Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Application! (File is in PDF format.)
Send your complete entry to:
Scholastic News Kids Press Corps/Apply
New York, NY 10012-3999
Kid Reporters are chosen by Scholastic News Kids Press Corps editors, and the 2012-2013 Kid Reporter team will be announced in early November.
Check out the 2011-2012 team!
Learn more about the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps by checking out some frequently asked questions about the program.
About the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps
Members of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps cover news stories for www.scholastic.com/kidspress and select Scholastic classroom magazines. Between 15-20 new press corps members are chosen each school year. The program is open to all students ages 10-14 with a burning desire to be a journalist. The selection of Kid Reporters is based on writing ability, interviewing skills, and attention to detail.
After seeing the movie Brave last weekend, I went to a press conference in Hollywood on Monday afternoon to interview some people who had a role in making the movie. I checked in with the Disney publicity team, then went to the room where the interviews were going to take place.
At exactly 1 p.m., the publicist started announcing the actors and actress, Craig Ferguson, who played Lord Macintosh, Kevin McKidd, who played Lord MacGuffin, and Kelly MacDonald, playing the voice of Merida. The stars sat on a stage in front of the audience.
The questions then began. Reporters would raise their hands, and the publicist would signal for his two assistants to give the microphone to whoever he chooses. I raised my hands many times, hoping that I would be chosen to ask a question. However, when the publicist announced that the last question would go to another reporter, all my hopes vanished. I was a little discouraged since I wasn’t able to ask any questions. The 30-minute period with the stars was not enough for all questions to get answered.
The director and producer of Brave, Mark Andrews and Katherine Sarafia, were the next people introduced. Once again, I eagerly raised my hand. This time, the publicist signaled for his assistant to hand me the microphone. I waited for my turn to ask a question, and when I did I felt proud to talk in the microphone.
“How was directing or producing Brave different from the other Pixar works that you have done?” I asked.
Mark Andrews answered, “Each film has its own challenges. I was the head of the story of The Incredibles and Ratatouille, and those were very different in aspects of their story. I think that’s one thing for me as a storyteller that gets me is that I’m going to encounter something I haven’t encountered before with whatever story I’m going to be working on. Brave was chock-full of story challenges.”
Katherine Sarafian added: “Definitely one difference was that we were going into an ancient time period. Pixar has never done that before, we never went way back in time, and stuff looked different then: teeth were crooked in this region, something growing on every thing, the castles are worn and run down.”
I was very happy that the filmmakers answered my question, even though I didn’t have the opportunity to ask any of the stars a question. Maybe the next press conference will be different.
Photo: Director Mark Andrews talks to reporters at the press junket for Brave. (Photo courtesy Aminah Tamimi)
As soon as we entered Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, California, I could not contain myself. I jumped in delight at a ginormous Luxo ball along with the famous lamp, Luxo Jr. The woman at the front desk gave us name tags with the Toy Story aliens saying, "OOO. A stranger, from the outside!" The lobby of the main building was decorated with all sorts of Pixar things. Tia Kratter, the shading art director of the new Pixar movie Brave, told me that when tours are held, the kids are given a scavenger hunt to find Pixar characters throughout the building. These characters are scattered everywhere! For example, there was a small Remy from Ratatouille painted at the bottom of the staircase. Even the bathroom sign for men was a Woody silhouette, while the sign for women was Bo Peep.
The halls each had a different theme. One hall was decorated with nature pictures by one of the staff. Another was dedicated to the process of filmmaking. Each office also had its own decoration. There would be figurines and paintings in one office, while the one next to it could have plushies and paperwork.
Once we got to the theater to watch a 30-minute screening of Brave and the Pixar animated short La Luna, everything was pitch black. Then, there were "stars" that lighted up the ceiling. Every few seconds, a shooting star would pass by. The "stars" faded away, and then began La Luna. La Luna is directed by Enrico Casarosa, and is a coming-of-age tale of a boy, his father, and his grandfather. I've got to say that that was the best short I have ever seen. It was accompanied by dreamy music by Michael Giacchino, (he also composed the music for Up and Ratatouille) and glossy animation.
Before the footage from Brave began, Mark Andrews, the director, and Katherine Sarafian, the producer, came on stage to talk a bit about what we were about to see. They explained that this wasn't the final cut, and some of the animation may be lacking some shading and color. Nevertheless, I didn't even notice the unfinished parts! Then, when Brave started playing, a warm feeling in my heart started to spread all throughout my body. I felt like I was 8 years old again! For the 30 minutes, I was intrigued, and when it ended I yearned for more. Afterwards, all the journalists had an Italian-themed dinner under the night sky in one of Pixar's buildings with an outdoor patio.
The next day, the Pixar grounds had transformed into the Scotland Highlands. One could practice archery, watch a bagpiper demonstration (I even got to play one!), and watch a few Scottish people explain the history behind kilts.
After all the fun and games, we had lunch and interviews. Being a hardcore Disney and Pixar fan, I was in heaven. I got to learn about certain Easter eggs, little cameo appearances the staff puts into each movie, and the filmmaking process. Did you know that Merida, the heroine of Brave, has a total of 111,700 computer-generated hairs? And that the Pizza Planet truck, which has been in every Pixar movie except for The Incredibles, is also in Brave?
It was certainly one of the highlights of my reporting career.
Check out my story on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website for more from my visit to PIXAR!
Photo: Kid Reporter Veronica Louise Mendoza with Mark Andrews, the director of Brave, at PIXAR Studios. (Photo courtesy Veronica Louise Mendoza)
Recognizing a movie star on the street — or any place other than onscreen — can be a thrill. But being recognized by a movie star — when you're just a regular kid — is a different story.
I went to Carnegie Hall on June 1 to cover the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and interview some of the winners. I also had the opportunity to interview three-time Academy Award winning actor Meryl Streep, who was the special guest speaker. I was so excited!
Ms. Streep had been my first interview ever three years ago as a new Scholastic News Kid Reporter, covering the red carpet premiere of the film Fantastic Mr. Fox in New York City. I was 9 years old at the time and had no idea that a red carpet assignment is pretty much the opposite of glamorous. You're assigned to stand for hours in a space the size of a Kleenex — usually on a busy sidewalk in the snow or 100-degree summer heat — while an army of adult reporters and camera crews keep shoving you just so they can get a better shot or shout "Who are you wearing?!" to every star who walks past. As a kid reporter, you're always the smallest person in the press line — easily trampled and frequently ignored.
But at the Fantastic Mr. Fox red carpet, Ms. Streep walked right over to me, shook my hand, gave me great quotes, complemented me on my interview questions, and then rushed off to get inside the theater for the premiere of her movie. She only spoke to a few reporters, and I was the last of them, so all the adults in the press line who had been shoving me minutes earlier were suddenly super friendly, asking to "borrow" my quotes and urging me to take their business cards.
I owed that first journalistic success to the graciousness of Meryl Streep, but I didn't expect her to remember me now, three years later, backstage at Carnegie Hall.
But once again, I was pleasantly surprised — shocked, really — by Meryl Streep. Waiting outside her dressing room, I saw her step out of the elevator, surrounded by helpers and publicists telling her who I was and what I was there for. She swept them aside and came straight toward me.
"It's nice to see you again," she said warmly, smiling at me. She remembers me? I thought. Suddenly, my excitement turned to nervousness. Seeming to read my mind, Ms. Streep put her arm around me just like a mom, calmed my nerves, and steered me toward the dressing room where our interview would take place.
She pulled out two chairs for us, but before I could sit down, she said, "Hang on a moment. You've grown."
"I'm wearing heels," I replied, blushing.
"You've still grown," she insisted. She was right — I'm about four inches taller now than when we first met.
I had been told beforehand that I would only have five minutes with Ms. Streep. I got nervous again. What if I said the wrong thing? What if I took up too much of her time? What-ifs whirled around in my head. Calm down, I told myself sternly. You'll only make her uncomfortable if you keep stalling.
I asked my first question. Somehow, the words came out in the right order and sounded fine. She answered thoughtfully. I surprised myself by forgetting my nervousness, becoming absorbed in the interview, and asking follow-up questions with ease. It all ran smoothly. At the end of the interview, I asked her to describe in one word how she felt to be there that night.
"Nervous," she said. What? I thought. Meryl Streep, world-renown, award-winning, famous actor is actually nervous?
"Why?" I asked her.
"I'm going on stage at Carnegie Hall!" she exclaimed, referring to the speech she was about to make. "It's nerve-wracking!"
I was surprised. "But you've been in so many films with so many stars," I said.
"I know! You'd think it'd go away!" she exclaimed, smiling.
After the formal interview was over, Ms. Streep talked with me for a few more minutes, about my reporting and her movies. I realized I had been there for much longer than five minutes. Yikes! I stood up to leave and Ms. Streep said the nicest thing a Kid Reporter can ever hope to hear: "It was great seeing you again. I'm sure I'll be seeing you forever and ever."
I smiled, thanked her again, and hoped she was right.
Photo: Meryl Streep laughs during her interview with Kid Reporter Grace McManus before the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards celebration at Carnegie Hall. (Photo: Dante A. Ciampaglia)
Back in March, I attended the Los Angeles Environmental Education Fair, which was held at the L.A. Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. I was there to meet up with my fellow reporter Miranda to interview Adrienne Bermingham from Dr. Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots organization.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a flock of peacocks walking freely around the grassy patches. Adrienne was really nice. She told us how Roots & Shoots was a program that encourages kids and teens to come up with their own solutions to environmental problems. Roots & Shoots is all about the kids coming up with their own ideas to help endangered species and environment problems. She took us for a walkthrough tour where we met an endangered white skunk and even a coyote! There were chinchillas, turtles, and a giant Flemish rabbit, which is the world's largest kind. He weighed 13 pounds! I also got to learn how to make your own compost and plant seeds in it.
After the tour, we went to a hands on workshop where we formed groups with other kids and they gave us some supplies made out of recyclables and we had to build a prototype of something to help solve the problem of invaders into the sewage system. Invaders called "invasive species," like unwanted mosquitos and other bacteria, cause problems and damage to ecosystems. It was fun to come up with something on our own.
The best thing I learned was that it is easy for us to make a big difference.
Roots & Shoots is a branch of the Jane Goodall Institute that encourages kids and teens around the world to take action and make the world a better place to live. At the Los Angeles Environmental Education Fair in March, representatives from Roots & Shoots demonstrated just how easy it is for kids to come up with solutions to important environmental issues.
Kids and teens grouped into teams to work on a model invention that would be judged by a pretend investor. The assignment was to take the materials provided for us and create a model of an invention that would help stop invasive species in the Los Angeles River. The materials ranged from tape and markers to boxes and plastic lids.
The first step was to understand the problem. We found information about invasive species and used our knowledge of biology to come up with ideas on how to stop them. Once we had our ideas, the groups worked together to build models of them.
My group was very creative, and I believe our project was awesome. We decided to tackle invasive species that are plants, and our idea was to use special chemicals and machinery to stop them and help the indigenous species grow. It was a fun experience getting to know the people I was working with. Our project didn’t win, but the cool projects that did went on to be recorded on video and shown in schools across the country.
Working on the projects taught us all that solving environmental problems isn’t as hard as it seems. We’re going to be the next generation responsible for the environment, and it's time to step up and become problem solvers.
If you want to get involved it is as easy as going to the Roots & Shoots website!
Watch the interview Damien and I did with Adrienne on the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website!