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Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
university of kentucky journalists Journalists Aaron Smith and Britney McIntosh work together covering University of Kentucky basketball games for the Kentucky Kernal college paper. (Photo courtesy Charlotte Arnold)

Journalists Capture March Madness

College reporter and photographer share secrets of their trade

By Charlotte Arnold | March 25 , 2011

As a basketball fan, Aaron Smith may have the best job in the world. He is a University of Kentucky (UK) student who is also a sports reporter for the UK newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel. This month, Aaron's job puts him courtside of some of the most amazing college basketball of the season—the NCAA tournament known as March Madness.

"March Madness is the frenzy of emotion that accompanies the stretch run of college basketball season," Smith told the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps at an early game in the tournament. "Watching these guys play and then being able to hear what they think about how they played is a wonderful experience."

No basketball game is complete without pictures. For that, Smith turns to Britney McIntosh, a photojournalist and fellow student at UK.

"I have a front row ticket to life, with my camera as an excuse to see anything I want to see," she said. "I get to be the eyes of the community for every event I cover."

The NCAA holds an annual tournament for both men's and women's college basketball teams. The tournament begins in March with 64 of the most promising teams pitted against each other.

Teams are out on the first loss. The numbers are quickly cut from 64 to the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and then the Final Four.

The men's championship game will be played in Houston, Texas on April 4. The women's will be played in Indianapolis, Indiana on April 5.

So do how do you get such a plum job? Smith attributes it to a combination of passion, hard work, and luck. In fourth grade, he and a friend took computer typing classes so they could put out their own "fake" newspaper.

"I've always been drawn to sports and to good writing," he said. "Those two collide in sports journalism."

McIntosh started working for the college paper while still a senior in high school. Sitting on the court, photographing UK basketball is the best of all her assignments.

"You really feel like you are in the middle of the action," she said. "You can hear everything [the players] say, and sometimes they even fall on top of you!"

Creating a great story with pictures means working together before, during, and after games. The two must communicate during the game and at half time to make sure they are following the same storyline. That way pictures and words match up to relay the excitement of the competition.

"We will get together after a game to discuss what storylines will come through the writing," Smith said. "The photographers provide photographs that capture emotion or a moment, and the reporters will try to combine the correct visual and the correct writing in unison to tell the story of that game."

March Madness is currently underway. Follow your favorite teams in your local newspaper, or catch the action live on TV. Scholastic News Kid Reporters will be attending championship games during the Final Four for both men and women. Check back to see how they use their words to relay the tension and excitement on the hardwood.

For more tips from professional journalists, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps Tips from the Pros page.

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