TAHS Students Tour Altoona Mirror and WTAJ News

Nine Tyrone middle and high school students toured the Altoona Mirror and  WTAJ studios in February. The trip gave students a look into the workforce of journalism and news production. 

The trip began at the Altoona Mirror, with a detailed tour of all of the departments located in the building. There are four main areas in the Mirror, advertising, news, printing, and distribution. The tour was led by Neil Rudell, editor of the Altoona Mirror.

The Advertising Department works with other businesses to place ads into the paper, which sustains the paper’s operations. On the top floor is where all of their extremely talented writers work. The students were fortunate enough to see how they lay out a design for the newspaper, the rough copies, and how they gather information needed to write the articles. 

The students then walked through the printing room, where large rolls of paper were stamped and folded within a matter of seconds. The operators even allowed them to walk into the area where all of the equipment is located. They also visited the packing and shipping room, where conveyor-belts bring the freshly-printed newspapers to the employees, who then transport them all over the state. The printing press also prints many other local newspapers, such as the Daily Collegian (PSU).

Perhaps the best part of the Altoona Mirror tour was the question and answer session with Editor Neil Rudell. Students sat in the break room and had an in-depth conversation with Rudell. He provided wonderful answers, and the students were very grateful to be able to talk to him. His advice was even more appreciated by the young aspiring journalists attending the trip.

After departing the Altoona Mirror, the students traveled to the WTAJ studios in Altoona. There, they got to see what all goes into broadcasting news. From the script writing to the actual newscast, the students got a look into the real news business.

General Manager Phil Dubrow led the tour through the WTAJ complex. The students learned about the computer work it takes to broadcast the news and all of the writing it takes to write the news script. They saw news anchors Colleen Nelson, KC Kantz, Charlotte Aimes, Christy Shields, and Joe Murgo all hard at work.

Dubrow then took them into the television studio and news broadcasting room, where all of the shows are filmed. Students were given the opportunity to work with the script prompters using the anchor’s foot pedestals that control the speed of the written lines and then read the scripts in front of the cameras.  Students were then shown the technical aspects of using a green screen in the production of the weather segments. The final stop was the control room, where the workers edit and produce the final broadcasts.

The students who attended the field trip were Austin White, Elaina Gehlman, Angelina Rhoades, Ellie Oakes, Stephanie Ramsey, Katelyn Buck, Braydon Brower, Curtis Brenneman, and Jacob Svidergol.

Overall, this trip taught the Tyrone students what careers in newspaper and broadcast journalism are like. The students were very thankful to Mr. Cummins McNitt for planning and scheduling the trip, and to Neil Rudell of the Altoona Mirror and Phil Dubrow of WTAJ for allowing them to tour the facilities.