Clubhouse News aims to produce news for teens, by teens

Joseph Frye may be a 17-year-old Las Vegas high school student, but come Saturdays he’s also an anchor for a youth news program about to launch this week after a test run.

But get over any preconceived notions of children’s news that paint an image of cardboard-box anchor desks and bed-sheet backdrops.

Clubhouse News’ 8,500-square-foot studio has four sets run by a full-time staff of 17 professionals using industry-grade camera and editing equipment to film about 20 part-time, teen reporters and anchors. There’s a news set, talk show set, special effects set with a green screen, and a space set for a segment under development.

The program, viewable at clubhousenews.com, is the brainchild of 51-year-old Lorenzo Doumani, a Las Vegas native who realized with his own teen daughter that “there’s really no news network out there for older kids.” Doumani went a step further and funded a group of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles to see if his presumptions were true about the unfulfilled niche. They were.

“You can’t have older kids watch the network news because they’re bombarded with the same stuff for two weeks in a row. If not that, it’s salacious and exploitative,” Doumani said.

He’s now providing financial backing for the program that may be based in Las Vegas but is planned for a national audience, targeted to those ages 6-16. Doumani envisions viewership growing to an international scale in 18 months, with the program translated into several languages.

The program offers a comprehensive look at the week’s most important national and international news without fixating on things like the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 for a month when little new information is available, he said.

The program also benefits student reporters like Frye, who’s been into videography since elementary school and is now attending West Career and Technical Academy, near Charleston Boulevard and the 215 Beltway for that reason. He does West’s school news and thought Clubhouse News would be similar.

But his audition yielded a surprise with his first look at the set and cameras. “I’m not quite sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it.”

He got the paying job of weekend anchor for the science and technology segment. He has been filming since the fall during the program’s beta testing. His job sometimes entails performing science experiments on set, taking advantage of the green screen.

“I’ve learned how much really goes into a show,” said Frye, who wakes on Saturdays and reports to the set in the morning. After having his makeup done, he reads through the lines. He then reads through his lines one more time on set, making tweaks on the way. “Then, we get to shooting.”

Frye’s mother, Jacquie Frye, has no complaints about the program, only praise. Her son is planning on studying cinematography in college, maybe attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Professional experience will only help, giving him a leg up, she said.

The young reporters aren’t just the faces, either, but are also involved in writing and planning, which is imperative, Doumani said.

“It needs to be from the kids’ point of view,”said Doumani, who allows the reporters a lot of freedom to be involved, including a 14-year-old female reporter who writes her segments. “We just make sure the facts are all right.”

Contact Trevon Milliard at tmilliard@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279. Find him on Twitter: @TrevonMilliard.