In this age of YouTube stars, FB Live and the Instagram image free for all, we are often asked why we teach kids to podcast rather than create a video channel. The answer is both simple and yet complex.
Simply, voiceover is my wheelhouse. It's what I know how to do and what I love, so I want to share that.
Complexly (and that is a word, because Spell Chef did not object!), when kids have to focus only on what they have to say, they learn how to communicate. There is no relying on images to tell a story. By images, I mean of the story subject, as well as the reporter's own looks or expressions. This also means that everyone starts out on equal footing. The listener cannot make judgements of the reporter based on race, socio-economic assumptions, or attractiveness, and therefore, the reporter is released from those self judgements as well. This is part of our mission- to level the playing field for kids who are marginalized.
To tell a story without pictures is harder. This improves literacy. The reporter has to distill an idea down to just words, and possibly, a soundscape. They learn how to actively listen. For example, in the process of prepping to interview someone, Connectopod reporters create a running list of questions to ask based on their research of the interviewee, their profession and experiences. We write it on a big whiteboard and continually add to it during the weeks running up to the appointment. Then when they are in the interview, they have a starting point and an outline. Without a camera present in the interview, the kids are naturally more present with the subject, which focuses the reporters to follow verbal and emotional cues. So if the story that is emerging in the interview is more interesting than our preconceived notions, they follow their curiosity and engage. Active listening!
But don't worry. We have a lot of additional footage that gets taken by the kids and us to accompany stories on our site. The kids love it. We also support when the kids come up with video reporting ideas such as our Guide Dogs of America episode.
After all, you can't keep a good ham down.
Listen to a couple of our guests on our reporters :