Volume 20, Number 42 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 13 - 19, 20100
Downtown Express photo by Al Guerriero
The staff of M.A.T.’s newspaper, the Scoop, interviewing Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw last month.
M.A.T. newspaper lands surprise exclusive; print not yet dead
BY John Bayles
Print news is not dead, at least according to the staff of the Scoop newspaper at the Manhattan Academy of Technology.
Last month the middle school newspaper landed an exclusive interview with Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw. Their fourth-floor classroom was turned into a mini-television studio and the segment aired on MSNBC a week later as one part of a weeklong segment on education in public schools.
One would think the youngsters would have been star struck, or would have had no idea who or why these two old men were coming to talk to them. Neither however was the case.
In fact when asked if it was the first time if they had been around television cameras and celebrities, one student chimed in and said, “Not for me. I was back stage at a Black Eyed Peas concert and there were paparazzi everywhere.”
But perhaps the most striking information that came out of the interaction between the Scoop staff and their very special guests was when Brokaw asked the middle school students how they got their news.
A large number actually said they preferred getting their news in print form.
“I think watching the television is lazy,” said sixth grader James O’Grady.
If that wasn’t enough, he continued, “Human beings, are addicted to being lazy.”
Other students noted that television news often doesn’t tell the entire story and even mentioned the role advertising plays in how short or long television news stories are allowed to be.
The two teachers who run the school newspaper, Al Guerriero and Chris Piccigallo, were impressed with their students.
“With this new generation of kids, you’re still hearing about newsprint, the hard copy and how important it is to have a newspaper,” said Piccigallo.
Due to the nature of their guests, the Scoop staff was of course pressed for time and had to have their questions ready; so they devised a plan to accommodate the time issue. A bunch of questions were put into a hat and the students each drew one to ask one of the celebrities.
Bill Gate’s favorite subjects in school, he told the young reporters, were math and science. That of course did not surprise them. They were surprised though when Gates told them what he liked to do on his free time. He said he enjoys taking his kid to garbage dumps and toilet paper factories.
Apparently Brokaw was also stunned at the answer and asked Gates why on earth that would be fun. Gates said trips like that served an educational purpose, such as learning about recycling and saving the environment, as well as offering quality time for him and his son.
Brokaw offered advice to the Scoop staff. He told them to be truthful in their reporting. He told them, so long as they were truthful, the story would be a good story.
The Scoop staff was impressively perceptive. They paid close attention to Brokaw’s voice.
He has the type of voice that makes you believe he is right, that makes him sound right,” said seventh grader Illeana Birnbaum.
They even noticed how Mr. Gates and Mr. Brokaw dressed differently; Mr. Gates wearing “funny black pants and a tight white shirt” and Mr. Brokaw in his suit and tie, sitting with his legs crossed.”
The students were asked if they could interview one person in the world, who would it be. A majority said President Barack Obama. O’Grady though, said he’d like to interview former President George W. Bush.
“I’d ask him how it feels to have the entire world, Europeans, Americans, Asians, Middle Easterners, hate you?” said the sixth grader. “Or, maybe I’d just ask him ‘Why?’”