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APTRA Academy Jr.
APTRA Academy Junior 2004 In Words and Pictures
By Bob Tarlau

The kidnapping of a five year old girl -- and her mother's emotional plea -- became the breaking story for budding reporters attending the APTRA Academy Junior event for 2004 held Saturday, April 3, at APTRA's convention in Anaheim.

APTRA Academy Junior gives student reporters a chance to cover a breaking news story under deadline pressure. They have to turn around a short tape (a voice over or SOT) to roll into a live shot (to bust into the Ricki Lake Show -- as Hal puts it, a favorite for us to interrupt!). The story that unfolded in front of the 18 students who took part was the abduction of five year old Bridget Jordan of Anaheim, which had now become an Amber Alert.

Anaheim Police Department spokesman Sgt. Rick Martinez briefed the media, then Bridget's mom, Barbara, and the young girl's 14 year old brother, David, who was with Bridget at the time she was taken but couldn't stop the man who kidnapped her, arrived at the police station. They were surrounded by the reporters and photographers -- but refused to speak as they were rushed inside. Later they came back out, to make an emotional statement -- and take quetions. Barbara Jordan pleaded for the girl's return because, she said, Bridget is a diabetic and needed her medicine. Barbara reported that her husband Bob was an Army reserve officer, serving in Iraq. Just before airtime, Sgt. Martinez reported the suspect's vehicle has been spotted by a motorist on Interstate 5 heading toward Oceanside. The police provided two photographs of the young girl and a composite sketch of the suspect -- given the students additional visual material.

Now, this story was made up, it never really happened -- but the circumstances of covering it where intended to be real. At the end of the exercise, each student left with a tape of the live shot they'd done, which included a sound-on-tape insert of the mother and the sergeant. It's a training tool on the road to eventual employment in our profession. You can see photos of the experience at

Barbara and David Jordan were played by Barbara and David Tarlau. The mentors at APTRA Academy Junior included Patrick Hatton of KPSP, Palm Springs, Darryl Kim of KSWB, San Diego and Abe Mendoza of San Francisco's KGO. Other professionals working with the students were reporters Elizabeth Espinosa of KTTV, Los Angeles and Lloyd LaCuesta of KTVU, Oakland-San Francisco, along with producers Tim Langford and Bob Tarlau, both from KTTV.

This was a junior version of the full size, two day Academy APTRA stages every October. Please take a look at the photos from the last APTRA Academy at Malibu's Cottontail Ranch... by clicking on this link:

Several of the students at APTRA Academy Junior had very positive feedback about what they learned and accomplished that morning. Several day they intend to participate in the next full Academy -- on Saturday, October 9 and Sunday, October 10, 2004.
To see the pics, click here:www.