Rocket Report Suspension: YouTube silences voices of SHS students: Part 3


Isabella Leonardi

After a month of being banned, Sears found the answer to the frequently asked question: “Why?” During livestreams and videos, The Rocket Report played commercials and advertisements from sponsors, which would turn out to be a fatal mistake. YouTube has embedded advertisements known as preroll, midroll, and postroll ads that pull in revenue. Apparently, a creator is prohibited from including their own advertisements. According to YouTube’s policy, only problematic videos are removed if the policy is violated, but the Rocket Report account was still taken down.  

Sears admitted fault. “We take responsibility for it even though it was unintentional,” he said.  

Nearly all of the staff agreed that the situation was poorly handled. They searched for weeks for a concrete reason as to why they got banned because YouTube communicated inadequately.  

Thanks to Sears, a conclusion was reached, but without him extensively searching for an answer, the crew would have unlikely reached a reason in a timely manner. 

Sophomore editor Miranda Gerk expressed her frustration on the situation: “If you take someone off of YouTube, you should provide solid reasoning as to why you’ve taken them off.”

Sophomore Geo Caputo interviewing history teacher Mr. Rainer (Rainman).

Because the Rocket Report is not an extracurricular but a class, student participants found their grades affected. Since students were unable to perform their roles and get their hours behind or in front of the camera, their grades suffered for a short period of time.

After gaining insight on why they were banned from YouTube, the crew abandoned their initial goal of recovering the old channel and focused on creating something bigger and better.  

Host Caitlin Wegener said, “I told Aaron there is a way we can keep going and we made it happen.”

On March 8, an official Rocket Report 2.0 video teaser was posted by the show’s Twitter account. The teasers generated excitement not only in the high school, but in the community. After various released teasers, the awaited day came when a new episode and channel would finally be shared with the community. 

On March 18, The Rocket Report started off fresh by airing a redesigned episode on a brand new YouTube channel. New segments, improved design, music and interviews were advertised and teased leading up to the launch. After a long break, the crew was excited to get back on track. 

Senior Maysun Klimak was relieved to be back to work. “I feel like our month off was not [right],” he said. “We were dropping videos every two weeks all year long, and we [felt like we got] basically banned forever. It feels right to be back.”

The unknown period of confusion was everything but a break to the Rocket Report. The crew utilized the time to enhance their editing, filming and design skills, while simultaneously creating innovative ideas for new segments to be featured. 

A behind the scenes of members of the Rocket Report crew working on the computers in the Rocket Report film room

Senior Jennifer Rebecchi, who edits footage, shared her opinion on the situation. “I think the revamp was what we needed,” she said. “It allowed us to look at it in a new perspective: How can we make it better? We were moving in a positive direction but the revamp allowed us to look at ourselves and decide what we should change and get rid of. What is going to make this the best possible thing it can be?”

Rebecchi’s words reflect how the crew’s focus shifted to adapt to the new changes. The period slowed production down, but increased the detail of work produced. The team no longer felt rushed to produce content, but instead focused on how they could improve the content.  

Sears took advantage of the time by honing in on learning to improve his editing skills. He was able to redesign the intro and the virtual set, along with many other key components of the show.

“It was actually fun to create a new intro,” he said, “I felt grandiose in the beginning. We went out and shot drone footage and I edited the clips together to make a short video. We posted the video on our instagram and twitter as a cryptic teaser and it felt kind of fun because we were in a bad era for a long time. It was almost cinematic to release. You almost never see that from a high school channel, especially.”

Sears also explored his role as a social media manager during the break. With a fresh start, Sears felt more professional because he had the opportunity to create promotions for the new channel.

The break also allowed the team to reconvene, he added. The crew had “nonproductive” days where they would sit together and share deep discussions and tackle tougher topics. The opportunity to sit down and talk gave the crew the opportunity to bond, which ultimately improved the content quality. 

The crew of the Rocket Report smiling for a big family photo

Once the channel re-launched, Sears and the rest of the team expressed their gratitude over being involved in The Rocket Report.

“A few other schools have a program like this, period, let alone to the level that we do,” Sears said. “A part of that is the people that are involved in it are enthusiastic about it and we have the ‘know how’ on how to produce content like this. [W]e are blessed with the materials the district has provided us. We are grateful to have that; otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to produce such high quality content. Because we are passionate about what we do, it [definitely] shows in the content.”  

The team is grateful for their following coming to the new channel, but since the channel is brand new, it does not have the same analytics as the old one. When searched on YouTube, the channel may not be the first result at the top of the page, because the amount of videos published and views are not high enough, which makes it difficult for the audience to find. The problem is minor and can soon be solved once the channel gains the same ground it once had.

“You can see the difference, everything looks clean cut and fluid,” Sears said.

Despite various obstacles occurring,The Rocket Report rose like a phoenix out of the ashes, ready to produce more content and keep the community entertained. 

“I’m incredibly proud of how united our team stayed while we were all in the dark,” said sophomore Gio Caputo. “Although we were going through uncertain times, we made sure to stay innovative and productive.” 

With this new beginning, there are various opportunities for The Rocket Report to pursue, one being a new Rocket Report website with no current release date. The website reportedly is said to contain an explanation of the situation. Along with an explanation, the website will include a few past episodes that were recovered, new videos and much more.
April 8th Episode (Season 1 Episode 2)