April 16, 2008

Live From the Cherry Blossoms Lights! Cameras! Teleprompters!

Zoe Foulkes, an eighth grader from Providence, R.I., gave her little sister a nudge as the two stood in front of a television camera in the Newseum's NBC News Interactive Newsroom.

"I'm Lily," said the fifth grader, forgetting her last name as she signed out.

It's a good thing that the "Be a TV Reporter" interactive experience allows for a practice run. The next time the teleprompter starts running, the duo will be live.

This popular exhibit gives visitors a sense of what TV reporters go through in their real jobs. There are lights in their faces, people standing around staring at them, and a teleprompter that requires they stay on cue.

But unlike real broadcasters, the talent at the Newseum gets to choose where they "report." The green screen allows for endless locations as backdrops, and the Newseum offers some quality choices. Visitors can report from the Tidal Basin or in front of the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue. For a harder news edge, they can do a stand-up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Or, they can stray from the Newseum's prepared script and ad lib.

Zoe and Lily didn't stray. They chose the cherry blossoms as their backdrop and read from the teleprompter like professionals. After their stint, the smiling sisters agreed the experience was fun.

"It was harder than I thought it was going to be," admitted Zoe, who did another stand-up later.

Helena Foulkes, Zoe and Lily's mother, also was a fan of the experience.

"This totally gets the kids into it. It's great," she said.

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