Students offer money-saving tips on local TV

Photo by Danielle Marsh
Flagler senior Mike St. Germain talks to First Coast News consumer advocate Ken Amaro for a segment of “Amaro’s Army.”

From Staff |

As gas prices soar and the U.S. dollar drops in value, Flagler College students are developing money-saving solutions for everyday situations — and they’re partnering with First Coast News consumer advocate Ken Amaro to share their tips with the public.

The students call themselves “Amaro’s Army.” Their mission: to help Amaro in his battle to save viewers money by producing videos, blogs and other resources for the First Coast News Web site.

The college’s award-winning Students In Free Enterprise team developed the idea for Amaro’s Army, and they’re teaming up with students from Flagler’s Reality Programming class to create the content.

“College kids have to learn how to save a buck and stretch a dollar,” said Barry Sand, Reality Programming instructor and SIFE co-adviser. “No matter what your age is, you’re being affected by the economy. Amaro’s Army is giving people practical, nuts-and-bolts ways to save money. We like to call it consumers’ ‘CliffsNotes.’ ”

Amaro’s Army offers online financial advice with a young, fresh approach. The communication students practice modern convergence journalism, combining traditional research and story telling with new techniques like blogs and streaming video.

Political science and business majors are contributing ideas and advice to the project, as well.

Julie Hirshan, president of SIFE and a junior communication major, said Amaro’s Army is a unique partnership because it allows college students to practice and share their explorations of new media, business ethics and financial literacy.

“This is a chance for First Coast News to expand its audience and tap a younger market,” she said. “Young people are more apt to listen and pay attention to something if it’s said by someone who’s young like them, and that’s who we are. We use humor, but we also use information.”

First Coast News posts the Amaro’s Army content online at their Web site.

The first collection of videos focuses on how to save gas money.

Amaro has been a reporter for First Coast News since 1979, and his “On Your Side” consumer advocate segment has brought him local celebrity and a variety of journalism awards.

Sand said Amaro’s Army will continue to be part of his Reality Programming class during the summer and fall semesters.

“We want it to be a forum that will get people to ask more questions,” he said. “The students are excited … energized by the whole thing. It’s not an academic exercise. They can see their work, they can tell their parents and friends to go see it on the Web site.”

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