By Raina Hanna/The Commercial Appeal
SOUTHAVEN — Jeremy Greenslade’s video journalism course is fast on its way to becoming DeSoto Central High School’s most popular class with 250 students applying for a class with space for 40 students — 20 each semester, each school year.
Despite stereotypes that say popular classes are easy, Greenslade notes his is not an easy class. He also admits that some applicants are persuaded by the chance of being on-air talent, seen by the entire student body.
“It’s not a class for those who want to play and have fun in front of a camera,” Greenslade said. “We do a bit of all the work that would go into a 30-minute news program on television except ours is edited down to between seven and 10 minutes,” he said.
Greenslade, who hand-picks those who attend the class, said he looks for students who are hardworking, driven, focused and intend to pursue careers in broadcasting.
For those wanting to work in front of the camera, he also looks for good speech patterns and pronunciation, as well as the ability to engage interview subjects and viewers, and good social skills.
“In broadcasting you can’t have people that are reserved,” he said. “I want to work with students that are really going to make a career out of this.”
Ninety percent of the planning, writing news, editing, securing interviews and story-boarding is done within the 1 hour and 45-minute daily period the class meets.
“I don’t want to give them too much to do outside of the class because they are already loaded down with so much homework,” Greenslade said.
As part of their show’s content, the students also use class time to shoot a mini-drama/reality weekly segment which highlights campus happenings with teachable moments. Faculty and other students are often guest stars.
Greenslade, who took over and retooled the program this year, got his first taste of broadcasting at Horn Lake High School as an Eagle TV student.
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting from the University of Memphis in 2005. Shortly after, he decided he wanted to teach the subject. He also teaches speech debate and coaches soccer.
“I’m young enough that my knowledge is current,” he said. “Still, with the technological advancements these kids have, they are far beyond where I was as a teen.”
Greenslade describes the DeSoto Central High studio as a smaller version of one found at a local TV news station.
They have much of the same camera equipment and use Macintosh computers for editing and graphics.
“What I want them to take away from this course is a knowledge of the process, how to work the technical equipment, to become better public speakers and to have an understanding of the history of broadcasting so they are equipped to pursue it as a career,” Greenslade said.
As for the future of the program, Greenslade is highly interested in getting JAG TV shown outside the school community, perhaps on local television or through some other medium.