News Decoder’s program is built around themes chosen by our partner schools. The themes relate to major global issues and are broad enough to enable students to explore a wide range of global challenges and solutions.
Schools work together in pairs to explore themes. Throughout the academic year, students — led by News Decoder Student Ambassadors and assisted by faculty point people — produce articles, photo reports, videos and podcasts for News Decoder’s news site.
The research and reporting is showcased in a live webinar. Presenters from both schools lead the discussion and share findings with a live audience, including students and faculty at their campus and others watching online.
The first step is to build a team of students who want to get involved in the webinar and multimedia production.
Build a team
At the start of the semester, Student Ambassadors recruit students from their school to fill the following positions:
- 1 Managing Director: organizes and leads team meetings to ensure deadlines are met and team members are on track
- 2-3 Presenters: summarize research and reporting on camera during the webinar
- 3-6 Researchers: are responsible for transforming the research and reporting materials into multimedia content for the news site. 1-2 Researchers also help each Presenter prepare for the webinar.
- 1 Audience Engagement Officer: organizes an audience to attend the webinar on campus and promotes the webinar on social media. They also encourage students to follow News Decoder’s social media accounts and promote work published on News Decoder.
- 1 Production Lead: oversees webinar logistics, including ensuring audio set-up, securing a location for the webinar and seating the presenters and audience. They also help the researchers turn their reporting and research into an article, podcast, video or photo-report.
Teams can be as big or small as the school sees fit. We recommend a minimum of eight students to ensure each position is filled.
Once your school’s team has been formed, it is possible to start producing content for News Decoder’s public news site and to begin planning a webinar with another school.
Hosting a webinar
The webinar brings together two schools from different continents to share what they’ve learned about their theme. Students and faculty from other schools in News Decoder’s community are invited to participate as observers and can ask questions of the panelists.
Students conduct research and reporting to produce multimedia content that News Decoder publishes on its news site.
Co-host a brainstorming session
At the start of the year, your school’s Student Ambassadors participate in a virtual meeting with your webinar co-hosts — the Student Ambassadors from a News Decoder school in another part of the world — and a member of News Decoder’s staff. During the brainstorming session, the SAs get to know each other, develop a plan for recruiting students and identify potential webinar topics that relate to their school’s global theme.
Host a planning session
Once the teams have been created, each school’s team participates in a planning session with its partner school and a News Decoder representative. During the session, presenters and researchers summarize plans for researching and reporting on their school’s global theme. A member of News Decoder offers feedback.
After the planning session, the managing director sets deadlines for story pitches sent to News Decoder detailing plans to produce multimedia content.
Research and report
The presenters and researchers conduct research and reporting, and interview authoritative sources. Before conducting an interview, students should take News Decoder’s 20-minute eLearning course on interviewing.
File multimedia pieces
Researchers are responsible for producing articles, photo essays, video reports or podcasts that reflect their research and reporting. First, researchers pitch their story ideas through the Submissions Portal. After receiving a green light from News Decoder, they produce drafts. Students will find it helpful to complete our 20-minute eLearning course on Writing a News Story. Students file their first draft to News-Decoder by the deadline.
Participate in a dress rehearsal
At least 2 weeks before the webinar, each team participates in a dress rehearsal led by News Decoder staff. The production lead secures a physical space for the rehearsal — the same space that is used for the webinar itself — and assists with audio and sound. In addition to troubleshooting any IT issues, News Decoder staff provide tips to presenters on how to capture the audience’s attention during the webinar. Presenters will want to check out past webinars by visiting our Webinars Archive to get a feel for the structure and flow of a webinar.
Ahead of the webinar, the audience engagement officer and managing director invite other students and members of the community to view the webinar live. Those unable to attend the webinar in person can register to view the webinar from a computer or mobile device — wherever they are in the world.
During the webinar, the presenters from each school summarize in 3-4 minutes their research and reporting. Presenters can prepare presentation notes in advance of the webinar but should avoid reading from a script. Presenters should face the camera and bring their “story” to life, focusing on their key conclusions and their most gripping research. During Q&A following the summary presentations, presenters can elaborate on their summary points. We encourage students on camera to ask questions of one another, and we invite those in the audience to submit written questions. We want the webinars to be interactive!.