Libby DeRonne considers herself somewhat of a creative arts junkie.
The 13-year-old Cuthbertson Middle School seventh-grader admittedly loves drama and the arts and has participated in school plays in the past. Now she can add student news reporting to her repertoire, thanks to the Charlotte-based Carolina Kid News program.
Libby made her debut in January with the program’s weekly television show, also called “Carolina Kid News,” as a student journalist and news anchor. She’s since discovered a love for the industry and a self-confidence she never knew she had.
“It’s really nice because it’s fun to learn new things, of course,” Libby, who heard about Carolina Kid News from a friend, said. “It’s a chance to show other people what I’ve learned.”
Carolina Kid News was founded by its current executive producer, Dianna Davis, in 2008 to give students 10 years old and older an opportunity to learn more about broadcast journalism and gain firsthand experience reporting about real community news. The program works with students in schools across the Charlotte region.
“I just saw a need for youth to be able to learn broadcasting as a way for career choices, to (gain experience) on a more professional basis (rather) than just doing school news,” Davis said.
Davis said Carolina Kid News has experienced success since its inception six years ago. Many alumni have gone on to do bigger and better things, such as hosting their own radio and television shows and studying communications in college.
The show also has been featured on Fox News Rising and Time Warner Cable News and currently airs on Time Warner Cable Channel 21 and U-Verse Channel 99 on Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Time Warner Cable News will soon feature Carolina Kid News segments regularly, at various times between 5 and 9 a.m. on weekdays.
Student journalists report from the news desk at the Carolina Kid News studio, located in the Crownpoint area of Charlotte, and also do on-location field reporting in communities around Charlotte including Union County. Past segments have focused on the Matthews Alive Festival, a Union County student theater production and the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
“We cover major sporting events, as well as small school news,” Davis said. “… We also take submissions of features, videos and photos; we want the community to know this is their news.”
Libby has written and reported multiple stories over the past several months including a feature on a local bakery, a story for Autism Awareness Month and a feature on Dylan Jacobs, a schoolmate diagnosed with cancer. Though her experience has been fun, Libby said it also has come with some challenges.
“I’d never really done anything like this before,” she said. “It was a little hard getting into the swing of things. I didn’t really know how to get the right stories, but I’ve always loved writing.”
Being in front of the camera also was a challenge for Libby, who calls herself a “fast talker.” But she’s met some great people since she started reporting for Carolina Kid News and has honed her writing and public speaking skills – something she believes will help her as she continues into high school and college.
“Being able to memorize the story and repeat it to the camera has brought up some of my confidence. It’s definitely helped me,” she said. “… I think if I were to (pursue a career in journalism) later on, I would have something to look back to and say, ‘Hey, I did this at Carolina Kid News.’”
Davis said confidence building is a key benefit for students who participate in Carolina Kid News.
“The confidence level has really grown,” she said. “I’ve seen kids become better speakers … and the parents have been very appreciative because it’s a career choice – it helps kids say, ‘Hey, I do like this’ or ‘This is something I want to pursue.’”
Carolina Kid News is currently seeking student reporters and story idea submissions. The program also will offer summer camps and host the inaugural Opie Awards for outstanding student reporters on May 29 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Find more information about the program at its website, www.carolinakidnews.com, or call 704-777-9928.