Eye on KELOLAND: Student storytellers


ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — A news source in northeastern Aberdeen now has a fresh look.

During part of the school week, you can find Brian Johnson at his desk, the anchor desk that is.

The junior at Aberdeen Central High School is an anchor for Eagle Zone, a student-run newscast that is recorded and released once a week.

“I play sports, so it’s just like, I would never think editing, going out and getting interviews, and all that stuff would be the life for me until I actually took the class,” Aberden Central junior Brian Johnson said.

This year, Johnson and the rest of the broadcasting class are delivering the news with a new set in an existing space.

It’s a big change from last year, when the students recorded Eagle Zone on the gym mezzanine.

“It was a fun environment. It was kind of a fun atmosphere. It was just, yeah, hauling everything up there. Obviously, you can’t control the sound much. I was always asking the P.E. teachers, ‘Could we turn the music down for the next 15 minutes while we record? I’m sorry,'” Media and English teacher Erich Schaffauser said.

But that’s not a problem anymore.

“Like the set you see behind me and stuff, last year I wasn’t used to all this fancy stuff, but it’s such a different energy and it just makes me feel a certain way,” Johnson said.

Other new additions this year include a producer and an assignment editor.

Senior Chanden Nieman is in charge of assigning students their stories that air in the newscasts.

“Some kids like to do sports, so we’d rather assign them sports stories than anything else, but sometimes kids get stories they don’t want to do,” Aberdeen Central senior Chanden Nieman said.

From bright studio lights, to cameras, to makeup, the newscasts are the real deal, and the students are also learning what it takes to be a good journalist.

“We’ve learned a lot about the laws, like anything copyright infringement, that kind of stuff, a lot about where you can and can’t film,” Nieman said.

“They need to understand media to help decipher good and bad media, to help decipher credible and non-credible sources, and kids need to learn how to navigate information now more than they ever have before,” Schaffauser said.

Their teacher Erich Schaffhauser may look familiar to you. He was a reporter for KELO-TV for several years.

Johnson says a career in journalism could be an option for him someday.

“Lots of people have told me that I should go into it, so I’ve definitely had it in my pocket just in case,” Johnson said.

But no matter which careers the students choose in the future; these skills will help them well beyond this television studio.

New studio cameras and lighting are on back order. The students also got some audio and field equipment upgrades last year.

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