Category Archives: Uncategorized

It Has Come To End

Written by Jackie Dominguez

When I was picking my classes for Spring 2020 my advisor suggested that FAA 110 would be a fun class to take. However, what I didn’t know was that FAA 110 would become my favorite class I’ve ever taken in my college career. When the semester first started, I realized that class would be meeting on Wednesday mornings and also be meeting on the scheduled event days. When I found that out I wanted to drop the class because I thought it would interfere with my social life, I’m so grateful that I didn’t!

FAA 110 provided me so much more than free performances, I truly believe it gave me a new pair of eyes for art. I have never been the type of person to attend performances or visit museums during my free time and that is simply because I just never gave art the opportunity to be appreciated. This course allowed me to have a better insight on the amazing opportunities the University provides students with that are often not taken advantage of. I truly enjoyed this course because whenever I attended class and the events, it felt like academics wasn’t the one thing constantly on my mind but instead my own feelings. I’ll never forget when Professor Collins said this in class, “Your voice is important. Never allow your voice to be stifield…Not only in this class but in everything!” This really has stuck with me and will continue to, because no professors in my college career ever made me feel like my opinion truly mattered enough to make a change. I’m so glad that FAA 110 taught me about the beauty of art but also that there is power within myself.

I’ll never forget the first performance I attended, Shanghai Ballet. What a masterpiece, I never thought I would be able to appreciate a performance without any words being spoken. However, I learned that art doesn’t have to say much, you just have to allow art to speak to you. I’ll always remember this performance as the first performance that brought me to tears. I wish more people were able to see this performance through my  perspective. 

Step Afrika!: Drumfolk was the second performance I attended in the Krannert Art Performance Center. As a history major that specifically loves African American history I can honestly say, I wish this performance never ended. This performance tells the story of how African Americans were stripped away from their culture and have had to continue to fight for till this day. There were so many different elements that overall made the performance unforgettable!

The third performance I attended was Jonathan Swensen’s cello performance. I never thought I would have truly enjoyed a cello performance, but I also never thought it would bring me to tears. Jonathan Swensen’s performance allowed me to reflect on my thoughts and let all my little broken pieces in me feel like they were put back together just by simply listening.

The fourth performance that I attended was Micheal Barenboin and the West Eastern Divan Ensemble. I was fortunate enough to be seated in the front row, this allowed me to get a view that I felt like no one else in the room had. The orchestra players were unbelievably talented and anyone could tell that these performances have played their instruments their whole life. This performance was truly unforgettable.

Cabaret, a true masterpiece full of meticulous details that truly made the show shine! This musical not only made you feel like you could connect with the characters such as Sally, Clifford, Fraulein Schneider or even Herr Schultz but it made you feel like you were part of the show!

Virgo – Man Dem: While watching this performance, I must admit that I was a little lost. I didn’t quite understand why the dancers were making weird movements that didn’t go along with the music. I think that’s the beauty of art. Sometimes no one understands because it’s not always for the audience, sometimes it’s for the artist himself. What I learned through this performance is that I as an audience member would not be doing my job if I were to not make the effort to at least understand. Sometimes you’ve got to be able to listen to yourself and be okay with no one else understanding. 

Drum Tao: Out of all the performances I have gotten the opportunity to attend, Drum Tao is by far one of my favorite performances for multiple reasons. It was a performance that showed me that art has the ability to completely ease your mind away from your problems even if it’s just for a while.

The Container: This was the first and last performance I viewed through the online database. This production showed me how refugees seeking refuge have to endure. This really touched me because it made me think of the difficulties a lot of my family members had to go through in order to provide me and siblings a better life. 

FAA 110 provided me so much more that what I could’ve learned in a classroom. I promise to always to try to convince friends to take this course because it truly has been one of my favorite courses I have ever taken. I just want to thank Dr.Collins and Dr. Robinson for making the course so exciting and enjoyable!

Final Reflections: A Lovely Time

By: Jacob M Rominger

I decided to end my college career exploring what only the University of Illinois could provide: an experience exploring the culture and arts of the University’s feature facilities like the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Spurlock Museum. I lamented being cut short of the fun times I was having, but I am happy I got to take part. Dr. Collins and Dr. Robinson provided a course that broadened my horizons, taking me to performances I may not have otherwise. This stayed true into the pandemic as I was directed to online performances to compliment my education. My classmates were friendly and fun. My brief encounters with them are ones I treasure immensely and some of what I miss the most in this isolation we all suffer through today.

Original photo I took at the Shanghai Ballet

How News Outlets Have Covered Coronavirus and Education

The Uncertainty of Schools Re-opening

By : Armani Baker

Background and Topic 
The Coronavirus has changed the educational experience of students of all ages all over the world. Since mid-May in-person classes have transitioned to online classes, forcing students to complete work from home, parents have to balance work and assisting their children with homework and high school students are questioning their attendance for college in the fall. Most news outlets are reporting about this topic in agreeance that there is much uncertainty about returning back to in-person classes. The future for students of all ages is unknown as the culture and dynamic of online instruction has affected the lives of students all over the country. 

New York Post, The New York Times, USA Today, CNBC and Los Angeles Times have reported about returning back to in-person classes in different yet similar ways. 

Similarities and Differences of how each News Outlet Covered Education

         All of the news outlets discussed the uncertainty revolving around the idea of schools re-opening for in-person instruction. However, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times all discussed what a potential school day would look like when and if schools decide to re-open and the significant changes that re-openings will bring to schools. 

What schools will look like when they reopen: Scheduled days home, more online learning, lots of hand-washing.  

USA Today introduces the potential idea that if schools re-open in the fall, students could possibly only attend classes in-person for two or three days a week. This article includes images of what social distancing could look like when schools re-open such as a certain distance between the desks inside of classrooms. USA Today includes an image from the Schloss-Schule elementary school in Heppenheim, Germany, of a teacher measuring out markers for the desks of students, giving the audience a visual to connect with the text of the article. Additionally, this article offers an outline of the new rules that could be put into action when schools reopen. 

Reopening California schools: 4 things you need to know

The Los Angeles Times story centers around four things that the audience needs to know about the potential re-opening of schools in California. The main source for this story is Governor Gavin Newsom as he states that public schools could reopen in the late summer to give students the opportunity to catch up on work. This article is similar to the USA Today article as they both report about how social distancing and hand washing will be enforced and how schools will potentially operate differently when open again. 

Despite Trump’s Nudging, Schools Are Likely to Stay Shut for Months

The New York Times reports about how schools could possibly continue on with on-line instruction regardless of Trump’s urgency of school re-openings. Similar to USA Today, this article includes the potential of alternating the days that students attend classes in person to practice social distancing in order for the spread of the virus to decrease. Additionally, this article uses the same exact picture from the Schloss-Schule elementary school in Heppenheim, Germany, that USA Today uses in their article to help develop their story. This article includes quotes from Trump, Governor Gavin Newsom and various education officials from all over the country. 

As stated above, all of the news outlets discussed the uncertainty of re-opening in-person school instruction. However, both the New York Post and CNBC focused their stories specifically about higher education. These two outlets gave the audience a deeper connection to the sources within the stories by using quotes from actual students and or parents.  They also used pictures of actual sources in the story. Lastly, they both described students’ dilemmas caused by COVID-19 as a “limbo.” Limbo defined as, the decision between deferring college admission and getting a job or the decision of completing their college education or dropping out permanently. 

High school seniors are in coronavirus ‘limbo’ with college deposits due

New York Post focused on specific high school students, with various quotes from the families of students, that are questioning whether they should begin their college experience online or wait until things go back to normal and get a normal job for now or complete charity work.  

This story gave the audience a face for the story, Jack Zimmerman, and included his parents’ concerns about him not having the traditional college experience if he decides to begin his freshman semester of college online at Vanderbilt University. 

Some students are considering dropping out of college because of coronavirus

CNBC highlights how the college experience has changed for students. Students are asking for their money back from universities as they unhappy with online instruction. This article raises a question from the sources in the text – Should students stay in school or drop out permanently? Similar to the New York Post, this article gives the audience pictures of actual college students who are balancing part-time jobs in order to make money to survive during this crisis. Also, the idea of differing college to take a gap year is discussed just like the New York Post. Unlike other articles, CNBC provides a video with facts about how the college experience has changed since March for students all over the country. 

What is Next?

Many citizens of the U.S. such as Michelle Butler, mother of three, feel very strongly that schools should not reopen anytime soon. However, if they do re-open, students should change the way they interact with each other. Social distancing should continue to be practiced throughout the day and washing of hands should be increased. 

Marcus Gatlin gives his perspective as a master’s student that has had to transition to online courses. Prior to COVID-19, Gatlin was studying in-person at Solent University in Southampton, England. The last week of March, he traveled home to the United States to begin his journey of remote learning. Gatlin offers a piece of advice for graduating high school students that possibly cannot begin their traditional college experience in the fall. 

Overall, the future of many students’ lives is currently unpredictable as there is not a definite start date of when classes will resume in person. One thing most agree on about the Coronavirus and education is that people are unsure if it is a smart decision to open schools again. 

Five Months of Life-altering Change

Before the evidence of a global pandemic was undeniable in our country, my semester was already far different from all my others throughout college.

In January, I had to have my gallbladder removed after years of extreme stomach pain and increasingly distressing digestive issues. While some of these symptoms continue to persist post surgery and have affected my time as a student journalist prior to surgery, the recovery process made me anxious to start my last semester at the University of Illinois.

Returning to campus, I received a note from DRES saying that I could not carry anything over 10 pounds. For many other majors, this would not be an issue. For a broadcast journalism major, this had me concerned how I would manage to complete all assignments carrying heavy camera equipment. Luckily, I was able to assistant produce UI7 News Broadcast 1 and lead produce Broadcast 2.

In TV1, I had the opportunity to produce with Alex, leaving me with such a sense of accomplishment that I was eager to try again. As a producer for TV2, I was able to contribute organizational, editing and creative skills, along with leadership abilities, to design beautiful newscasts.

At the beginning of the semester, I remember staying up late one Wednesday night at Richmond Studio with Dan, Taylor and several other students to plan the first newscast. As the trailblazers, we were overly nervous how this production would go. That morning, we received an email saying the show should be an hour and see what we can do. At the time, I was about to walk into work, which is in a courthouse where I could not have my phone at the time. So with any little communication I could use, Dan, Taylor and I turned a half hour prepared show into a successful one hour newscast.

Though there are things we did not accomplish in our first broadcast and though it made me extremely anxious, this situation showed me my ability to perform under pressure. In the moments the newscast began, I realized an unrecognized passion for producing.

Besides the benefit of not having to carry equipment while recovering, the opportunity to produce was imperative to know what abilities I can bring to the table in the job market. Through work this semester, I have been able to fully recognize my love for writing, storytelling, editing and organizing.

The Rise of a Global Pandemic

It was around 8 p.m. in Urbana and more than half the TV2 class was at Richmond Studio working on packages or news updates for the last class before spring break. It was almost as if the United States recognized the severity of the coronavirus within a matter of hours. Colleges were going online after breaks, the NCAA cancelled games, the NBA suspended the season and Tom Hanks tested positive for COVID-19.

This would have been an incredible amount of information to process as a college student, but we had a job to complete. Many of us stayed late into the night to complete news updates as a team, which showed me the bond our class made even in the short two months we had together. In hindsight, I’d like to think we wanted to complete the assignment because we were all committed journalists. But more likely than not, we were also trying to escape reality — unable to accept how our lives were about to change.

Especially for myself, I’ve realized how much more I thrive in busy, stressful situations. I recognized this in college and, as a student, have become heavily involved in various organizations, worked several jobs and enroll in the maximum amount of credit hours each semester. Going from my naturally busy, organized self to suddenly being ordered to shelter-in-place has been a huge shift mentally.

To stay busy, I still make a schedule for myself to work on my schoolwork, read for a while each day, cook something new for my family to also go on my blog, workout or go for a walk, watch the news and work on a puzzle with my mom.

However, I’m sure educators and students alike can recognize the impact of technology during this time. Like what was mentioned at the start of the semester, cell phones are a monumental innovation for journalists. In this climate more than ever, we are able to take photos and video, record audio clips and compose written stories all from the palm of our hand. Breaking news can be more “breaking” as communication shifts to social media and instant calling and messaging. This became clear throughout the semester, but also enabled us to continue to do our job amidst national stay-in-place orders.

As the weeks have passed by, the more frightened I have become for the situation the country is in and the more it impacts my mental wellbeing. Though being home has been beneficial to my recovery process from gallbladder removal, it has also made me less motivated and actually less determined to accomplish projects to the best of my ability. As a journalist, though, I have realized the absolute need for the press and how crucial it is that we have honest and quality reporting in these times.

Reporting Amid COVID-19

Though I’m reminded each day of the negative effects of this virus, which I believe is invaluable to recognize, I have been trying to look for any positive to keep my spirits up. Staying active and keeping my food blog have been beneficial in keeping hope alive. Fortunately, I was also given an opportunity I wouldn’t have otherwise had if it not for this quarantine.

At the end of March, the head of the digital department of NBC Chicago called me to explain they had a job opening available, but I would have to start in two weeks. Had I been in Champaign, I would have to deny the offer. But because I was already working remotely just outside the city of Chicago, I was eager to accept the offer.

This past summer I had interned for NBC Chicago Investigates and would email this woman I’m sure a much too excessive amount asking about potential job openings. Though in the interview I could speak about my time at NBC, I was also able to draw on experiences in TV2 such as the time of producing an hour newscast after originally thinking it would be only a half hour show. Incredibly grateful, I can now say I am a digital media producer for NBC and use what I have been taught in TV2 for each shift so far.

Having to keep up with news on a daily basis, I have seen how pivotal it is to be aware of what is happening across the world and strike a balance between necessary and hopeful content. As the head of NBC Digital and NBC News Chicago told me, it is more rewarding now than ever to give the news to people who hunger for knowledge and rely on journalists to give them essential information.

Being a citizen of the United States has gone hand in hand for me as being a journalist. There is a feeling of commitment to the the country to save lives, but also give hope so those on the front line don’t give up. Having the man we have leading our country terrifies me even more. Not only because there seems to be a denial of the seriousness of this pandemic and continual attacks on the media — the ones delivering truth to a country who needs it now more than ever, but also because he is making a global pandemic a partisan matter. Saving human lives from an unexpected pandemic should not be drawn down party lines and that mindset could heavily alter the public’s cooperation during an extremely crucial time. That scares me. That makes me want to be a better journalist.

Ever since starting this job and keeping busy again, I have felt more motivated to complete schoolwork, daily projects, keep a healthy lifestyle and become a quality journalist in such a crucial time. Though a tragic and difficult time, I have found my strengths and weaknesses and can, thus, find confidence in knowing my best abilities.

Looking Back and Moving Forward Post-Pandemic

As many I know would agree, I wish we had more time working together in TV2. However, moving forward, this class and this experience as a student journalist amid a global pandemic has taught me to never take a moment for granted. Even if at times it felt like simple schoolwork to complete, I would give anything to be back in the studio with our team or shooting a package on campus.

Looking back on this past semester on campus, I still believe I grew as a multimedia journalist. I learned to adapt. Because I produced the first two shows, I predicted the rest of my semester would be filmed with shooting and editing packages, VOs and VOSTOVOs. My first VO was for Hack Illinois (4:08), which is the largest Hack-a-thon in Illinois. I planned for this to be a package, but when I got there, my camera equipment would not turn on. For future, I planned to always triple check at home, but at the time this was out of my control. I shot what I could with my phone and made a VO for my News Update.

That same week I decided to film another VO, as another area of Champaign was being declared a “historic district.” (3:25) I planned to make this a VOSOTVO, but my interview audio was almost inaudible that I decided it would just be a VO. Needless to say, this taught me I need to work on shooting and how to best prep for these situations. I learned that the element of physically shooting content is my least favorite part of being a journalist, but I also strive to be better with practice.

The same week, February 21 – March 5, I also wanted to get at least one VOSOTVO done, so I did one on an IDOT town gathering (2:34) in Urbana as construction would soon begin. It was interesting to hear such a variety of perspectives from the town and I could sense the energy in the smaller-than-expected room.

Anchoring this news update was enjoyable for me, but I know I need to strike a balance of professionalism and personality when in front of the camera. For the past three years, I have anchored Good Morning Illini, where I think I have found a way to strike that balance as I am able to be more carefree, per se. If I have the opportunity to anchor or report in the future, I know I need to be aware of this and practice as much as I can even just in front of a mirror or my phone camera at home.

Before leaving for break, I was able to film my first and only package for TV2. The University was hosting an event for International Women’s Day (3:07), which was more speakers than they originally explained. Hence, it was a challenge to find interesting b-roll and I hope the package did not seem too “wallpapered.” On the other hand, I had the opportunity to interview the University Chancellor Robert Jones, which was an exciting opportunity for me.

It’s a shame I will not be able to return to campus to practice the skills upon which I need to improve such as fixing shooting technicalities, using cleaner editing and maintaining energy as a reporter and anchor. However, this time quarantined at home in Chicago has taught me we can be journalists anywhere at any time if there is a story to be told. If we are creative and use critical thinking skills, we can tell still tell a story through written word, text or email messages, photos and videos shot on our phones and audio recordings also taken on a handheld digital device.

“Graduating” in mid-May seems even more surreal from our homes instead of on campus with close friends and life-changing professors, but I am taking away from Champaign much more than a degree. Thinking back on my experiences in college, I can truly say the University of Illinois built much of who I am today. My beliefs and skills have been challenged, along with my mental and physical strength. I have overcome more than I thought I ever could and can only thank the people who constantly challenged me to be better, who tend to be the same people who have shown me true appreciation and compassion.

Thank you, Professor Collins, for teaching us more than journalism this semester. You’ve shown us how to better our entire lives and how to be good, authentic, determined young men and women. Thank you to the entire TV2 class for constantly having each others backs and being the greatest support system I could have ever asked for these past four years. This semester has been far different than expected, but I am grateful for every minute of it.

“I’m Sorry Ms. Rona”- Outkast Students of UIUC

Tyler Tubbs

Thank you once again for visiting my blog! Sadly, this will be the final iteration in what has been quite the saga of entertainment. Over the semester, I had the privilege to view eight completely unique performances that have broadened my perspectives on not only art, but also how to approach novel cultures.

Although I had an incredible experience over this past semester, I am incredibly disappointed that it was brutally cut short by our current pandemic. Thankfully, we were able to get a solid start to the semester with such incredible performances as Somi and Anna Deavere Smith. Both performances gave such incredible insights into emotions, thoughts, and experiences of cultures all over the world. In closing the in person semester, my favorite performance, was the fantastic Cabaret. I have always been a fan of musicals and cabaret is the first that I actually got to see in person, so it will always carry meaning to me.

The heart wrenching end of the in-person semester destroyed just about every normalcy in our lives, but, thanks to Digital Theatre+, I could at least continue my genre-hopping expedition from home. The first performance, The Container, highlights the struggles faced by refugees headed toward England in a gripping, single-set performance. Another single-set performance, Metamorphosis, challenges traditional asian values in which the parents completely depend on their eldest son. This is all changed when the poor young man transforms into a human-sized dung beetle. The final event of the semester was Macbeth. Shakespeare’s timeless classic was incredible, even online. Macbeth hosted some of the best acting I have ever seen.

I had such a great time this semester, and I want to thank my two professors for making this all possible. Dr. Collins and Professor Robinson have been nothing short of amazing throughout this whole journey. I want to deeply thank them and anyone else taking their time to read my posts for being such incredibles guides and partners in this experience.

A Semester of Change

By Dan Gerardi

This semester has definitely been different. With all the changes to our class schedule, and then the coronavirus pandemic, it was not easy. We got through it though, and I learned a lot. 

From a news perspective, it is hard to imagine something not only dominating the news cycle for as long as COVID-19 has, but also shutting down as much of American everyday life as it has. COVID-19 has wiped out virtually all events and stories that do not have some sort of coronavirus connection. Many people lost their jobs, and many others are working from home. All “nonessential” businesses are suspended. Schools are closed and students are learning from home. All sports and public events are suspended. People are supposed to stay six feet away from each other and gatherings of ten people are deemed dangerous. It is hard to imagine anything having this kind of a truly global impact. Outside of a world war or some kind of horrible global natural disaster, I can not think of anything else than can touch the lives of virtually everyone around the globe like a worldwide pandemic can. Very quickly, these wholescale changes to the most constant pillars of our everyday lives have become the new normal. It is not ideal, and it is not a very happy time since some of the events postponed were very near and dear to our hearts. It is also not something to feel angry or discouraged by either. The cancellations, postponements, and social distancing are all necessary to slow the spread of the virus, and (somewhat) normal life will return before too long. With all that in mind, there were still classes to finish, chiefly this one – Journalism 445, the last of my major classes. Despite everything that happened this semester, this class really did teach me a lot.

I remember first hearing about the virus over winter break probably in early January. I felt bad for the people of Wuhan and of China, but I never imagined it would affect our daily life like it has. We talked in all my classes about how the virus was affecting life in China as cases started to pop up in South Korea, Italy, Spain, Iran, and other countries throughout Eurasia.  I could see it spreading and figured we would eventually have some cases in the United States. For a long time, I never thought it would get worse anywhere else in the world than it was in China, As the virus started to get a lot more widespread in Italy and other European countries, we started to get a few more cases in the United States. By early March some smaller events started to get postponed, and some precautions started to be put in place, but it still did not seem that bad to me. Then in the span of less than a week, starting on about March 10th, my entire world changed. Large scale events started being postponed. Professional and college sports leagues announced they would continue without fans in attendance. On Wednesday March, 11th Utah Jazz basketball player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the following day actor Tom Hanks tested positive. This put an immediate halt on all American culture. Sports leagues were suspended indefinitely. Then, the University of Illinois announced all classes would convert to online indefinitely. The NCAA College Basketball Tournament was cancelled. All spring NCAA sports were cancelled. After going home for spring break on Friday, March 13th, we were ordered by Governor J.B. Pritzker to “shelter in place” and gatherings of 10 or more people were banned. All Illinois public schools were ordered to move to online learning. Stores even started limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time.

My Mom and I had to wait in line for over 15 minutes just to get inside our local Costco.

My daily life had been so dramatically changed in less than a week that by the time the U of I announced commencement was postponed, it had little effect on me. I had become numb to such massive change.

As an aspiring journalist, this semester was incredibly unique. It is not often that a single news story completely dominates the news cycle for an entire semester, and this one will continue to dominate for a lot longer than that. Even before mid-March brought large scale, COVID-19 related changes to everyday American life, we were doing news stories about the novel coronavirus. As early as January, we were talking about the massive outbreak in China and how it was spreading to Italy and Europe. By mid February, we were talking about the small number of cases that were in the United States. The story was beginning to have Champaign-Urbana related consequences. We have a large population of Chinese students at the U of I and many of them were concerned about their families back in China. I remember I produced our class’s first newscast on February 6. We changed the show from 30 minutes to a full hour because coronavirus was already such a big story. I’ll also never forget Megan Xu’s story during that newscast about U of I students from China who were buying masks in Champaign-Urbana and sending them back to China because there was such a shortage of masks there. This caused Champaign-Urbana to have a shortage of masks. That was the first time I got a sense for how big this virus could get, and Megan brought a perspective I had never thought about. 

As a student, this semester was certainly challenging. Being a second semester senior and having to finish up my classwork while trying to find a job was hard enough without the global pandemic. It was not easy at first to convert all classes to online learning. Through it all, I just had to be flexible. I just had to roll with the punches. As classes resumed after spring break, I got into a rhythm of how to handle each class, and it was working out fine. The social aspect of being a student was incredibly missed, especially in the last semester of my academic career. I am a lot more engaged and applied to my schoolwork when I am seeing my friends everyday in class and talking with them about our assignments. That is especially so in a class like this – where we put on a newscast and everything I do affects someone else. I hold myself more accountable if someone else needs my package or VOSOTVO for the newscast as opposed to me having a lot of time to complete an assignment that does not affect anyone else but me. If having to do schoolwork is the price to be paid to go to a classroom full of people who truly are my friends, I will pay it all day long. Being a solitary student unable to truly interact with my peers was by far the hardest part about being a student through all of this. It is a reminder that the drive and motivation to get things done has to come from me. At the end of the day, I am the one who has to care about the quality of my work more than anyone else, regardless of whether anyone else is depending on me to do it. 

As a citizen of the country, it feels like I am going through a historic time. Granted, I would love everything to go back to normal, and I wish this pandemic never happened. I cannot help but feel somewhat fascinated to be going through such a historic time. I feel it is my duty as a citizen to follow the shelter in place order and do my part to ensure I do not spread the virus to others. I get the feeling this is something that will be a “before and after” time in our country’s history. What will a post-coronavirus United States look like? What about the globe? What aspects of everyday life will be different forever because of this pandemic? My dad always talks about what airports were like before the tragic events of 9/11. He mentions the lack of security compared to now and how now it takes so much more time to get through the airports because of increased checks and security measures. I wonder if things like high fives or hand shakes will start to disappear from everyday life after this pandemic. I think about large gatherings like sporting events, concerts, or even churches and wonder if there will be measures put in place at events like these to ensure people do not catch diseases. Living through this unprecedented event in United States history makes me wonder how much of the rest of my life this pandemic will shape. 

This semester made me use many technologies in ways I never have before. Even before the pandemic, things like Facebook and Google Calendar were critical resources to finding story ideas. Facebook was great for finding events on campus that I did not even know existed. Once I found an event that intrigued me, it was also very easy to message the event organizers on Facebook and set up an interview. As the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, I was constantly checking my email for messages from my teachers about how classes would change as well as MASSMAIL updates about how the university would be handling the pandemic. In the past, I really did not use my laptop super often for schoolwork, but it quickly turned into my classroom as I started attending video classes on Zoom. My sister, who is a student at Ohio State University, also used her laptop more than usual for all her online work.

My sister takes a test online during quarantine.
My sister used her laptop, iPad, and her phone to help her do homework at home.

Technology also really influenced my mom while at home. She is a preschool teacher, and her class has been sending her videos of them counting and finding different shapes around their house. I also helped my mom film several videos for her to send to her students.

This is a screenshot from a video I filmed of my mom teaching her preschoolers about farm animals during quarantine.
My mom watches videos of her preschoolers finding different shapes around their house.

Television also played a key role in staying informed throughout the pandemic. My family and I watched countless press conferences from Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot talking about how our local areas and our state were handling the pandemic. We also watched many press conferences from President Donald Trump as he explained the national response to the virus. Where I once went to class with dozens of other students every day and talked to them about our common experience of our class together, my phone became the only way to keep up with these people both as fellow students and as friends. Technology played an instrumental role in helping me get through this semester. 

I think I viewed the events of the coronavirus pandemic as part journalist and part citizen. As a student journalist studying towards a journalism degree, I naturally viewed the pandemic through a journalistic angle. Coronavirus completely dominated the news cycle in the U.S. from mid-February or early March on so much so that it was very difficult to find a story that was not coronavirus-related from a local or nation news outlet. News has been very important throughout this entire pandemic. News outlets have been the only way people have been able to stay informed throughout this unpredictable pandemic. Many people know very little about the virus or the best practices about staying safe during a global pandemic so it has been the duty of news organizations to give health experts and local and national leaders a platform to reach every American and help them stay safe. There were also times where I naturally took a step back and noticed all the little parts of daily life that were impacted by the pandemic. It is hard not to think about missing my last semester of college and all its fun events. It is also difficult not to get caught up in the struggle of social distancing. It is very painful to not be able to see my friends or some extended family members. We have not been able to be with my sick grandpa, but we have been going to his house and talking to him through his door.

My family and I have to talk to my sick grandpa through this door during the pandemic.

Social distancing has been something that has been difficult for everyone. Viewing the pandemic with a journalistic eye is not so different from viewing it from the perspective of an everyday citizen. As journalists we give a voice to everyday citizens and bring to light events, issues, or feelings that everyday citizens may not have noticed they share with each other. The human interest stories of how people are coping with social distancing and their new normal are even more important because they remind people they are not going through this alone and we all have to do our part to help get through it. 

When time is of the essence, self-confidence is very important to completing assignments. When there is a lot to do in a short amount of time, there is not time to doubt yourself. If you have kept up with the work but just find yourself a little behind, confidence is key. When people lose confidence, they can confuse themselves and become anxious. Self-confidence is especially key as a journalist. It is your story or your package, and that means you are in charge. You are the one calling all the shots when interviewing, filming, and editing. I have found it is critical to trust myself and know that this is not the first time I have done a package. Getting caught up in every single little detail can be overwhelming. Whenever I have been worried about an assignment at the beginning, I usually end up wondering why I was so worried to begin with. I have begun to trust that I have the skills to get the job done and that has helped me immensely in completing my highest level assignments. Self confidence can be very empowering.

I have learned a lot in this class that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I have definitely learned to be flexible. Anything can change at any given moment, and that means you have to adapt. If you stop adapting, you might get left behind. When there is change, just go with it. It can be difficult to think that something is set in stone and then suddenly everything changes. Things happen. The world is always changing, and I will remember that in my career. I had to move the time of my news update on March 5 to an hour earlier than I was supposed to do it. I was not expecting that, but it was not a big deal. I just went with it and it turned out fine. I have also learned it is never too early to get started on something. It can be crucial to always try to stay ahead of the game especially when projects are on deadline. I could always improve at managing my time, but if I know I have to do something, it would be very helpful to get started sooner rather than later. Getting started can sometimes be the most challenging part for me, so I will try to jump in with both feet more often. One thing I will also take with me is my relationship with my coworkers. I always do my best work when I am working with peers I respect. This class was truly an amazing group of people, and seeing their work and drive to do their best inspired me to do my best. I always tried my best to stay upbeat and keep everyone in a good mood. To me, that really makes a big difference. I was lucky enough to get the chance to anchor our newscast on March 5. I tried to keep the mood loose and positive and I really think that helped all of us to be more relaxed and comfortable during our broadcast. I was even confident enough to throw in an adlib about a VOSTOVO I shot for that newscast. I made a lot of friends in this class, and having such a positive environment increased my drive to do my best work in filming, editing, and working in the studio. I want to remember that I can have a positive impact on those who work with me. When they are positive too, that in turn has a positive impact on me and my work. Creating a great work environment and great team of coworkers could start with just one person. Luckily for us, we had a whole class full of great people this semester. 

I learned a few things about leadership this semester as well. We had great communication within the class, and I was able to check in with everybody. For the most part we all knew what each other was doing every week which was very helpful. One major thing I learned about leadership is it is important to rely on other people. People like to feel like they are contributing. Also when a leader tries to do too much, it can seem like the leader is acting like they are above everyone else and make others feel like their work is not good enough. I produced our first newscast of the semester and I could not have done it at all without Becca Wood and Taylor Howard, my assistant producer and assignment editor. I let both of them do their jobs and they were both instrumental to our newscast doing well. I relied on them for a lot and they were amazing. Our packages were strong that week too. I was happy to help people when they needed it but I knew they have all edited packages before. One thing that I do not like is when leaders try to micromanage everyone. It can make people feel devalued when a leader tries to teach people something they already know. For me, the best leaders are ones who are always there when people need help, but also trust them to do their jobs. Inclusion is also a very important part of leadership. As a leader, it is important to check in with everyone and let them know you are there for them. It makes people feel valued and increases their self worth when they see the leader care about them enough to have a conversation with them about how they are doing. One other thing I found to be important about leadership is positive reinforcement. A compliment or some encouragement can go such a long way toward increasing people’s confidence. It also brightens moods and helps create a positive environment. Hearing a simple “nice work” or a “thank you” can really mean a lot to someone. I think leaders do not give enough positive reinforcement, and telling someone they are doing a good job can have lasting positive effects. Overall, this was a successful semester, despite the pandemic and all the changes it brought. I was most proud of the leadership skills I learned in this class. I enjoyed producing our first newscast, and I was happy I could help some people get their news updates filmed in the studio by serving as director on the night we all got the news classes would be moved online. I knew how to use the switcher as well as how to record and save new supdates, and I was more than happy to direct news updates for Yuhan, Becca, Maddie, Liam, Alex, and Danielle W on that crazy night. Being there with everybody also helped me to feel calmer about all the changes that were taking place. Both situations were very hectic, and I am proud that I stayed calm and positive and was able to help everyone else feel more confident. This semester I was most proud of the opportunities I took advantage of. Both in the classroom and outside of it, I was proud I put myself out there. I do not always jump at leadership opportunities, but I am really proud I did this semester. Being a leader in this class helped me to be a better leader in my job with the Illinois Athletics video department too. I will definitely most remember the people of this class. I made some friendships in this class that will last far beyond our college years. I was so proud of how we all were able to work together. This was a very special group of students, and I was honored to work with each and every one of them this semester.

This rainbow offers a glimmer of hope that things will soon return to (somewhat) normal.

COVID Covered Differently Across Channels

By Dan Gerardi

I took a look at five different news websites to see how their coverage of COVID-19 differed.

For the last two months, the coronavirus pandemic has completely dominated the American news cycle. With coronavirus being pretty much the only news story being covered, different news outlets have found different ways to cover the pandemic. Some lean left, some lean right, but most news outlets tailor their coverage to fit their viewers and readers. I took a look at five different news outlets at roughly the same time on the same day, Thursday, April 23, to see how the coverage differs between news outlets. I also spoke with my Mom Mary, my Dad Michael, and my sister Kathryn, to get their thoughts on how the pandemic is being covered.

    The first news outlet I looked at was CNN. CNN is known for leaning left in most of their coverage, and the coronavirus pandemic was no exception to this. CNN.com’s top story on April 23 was about racist tweets that were deleted by the Health and Human Services Spokesman. I did not think this was a surprising top story to find on CNN since it is criticizing the credibility of a spokesman within the Republican Trump administration. The front page of CNN’s website also featured articles about how the pandemic affected prominent Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Maxine Waters. Warren’s brother unfortunately passed away from COVID-19. I was also not surprised to see these articles featured since they discussed the pandemic’s effects on two very prominent women within the Democratic party. This is something CNN’s viewers and readers would be interested in hearing about. Another featured article on their website discussed how House Democrats were calling for an investigation into the firing of a Trump administration official who oversaw the purchasing of vaccines. This story was similar to their top story since it also criticized the Trump administration and the people it put in place to handle the pandemic. The final story I saw featured prominently on their website was the only one that did not have to do with coronavirus. It was a list of potential candidates Democratic presidential front runner Joe Biden could choose as his running mate. This article was a good one to include because it takes a break from the coronavirus to talk about the election, something CNN’s primarily Democratic readers are certainly invested in. My Mom said she believes the pandemic has taken some of the focus away from the election. Overall CNN’s top stories were very indicative of their leftward lean, and they mostly blamed the Trump administration for problems the country is having handling the pandemic. They talked about its effect on Democrats and even included the article about Biden’s potential vice presidential picks to remind their readers about the importance of this fall’s election and ensure it does not get lost amid nonstop coronavirus coverage.

    Next, I looked at Fox News. Fox News is known for usually leaning to the right. I found that they too primarily stuck along these lines with their coronavirus coverage. The top story on Foxnews.com talked about how New York antibody tests may show that more people had COVID-19 than they previously thought. I was also not surprised to find this top story on Fox News since they have supported President Trump’s handling of the pandemic, and have blamed most problems on the states. Foxnews.com also featured a video criticizing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response to protestors amid the pandemic. Their coverage was very New York focused partly because it has become the global epicenter of the pandemic, but also because Fox News can place the blame for any of New York’s problems on its Democratic Governor Cuomo, and Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. This is smart by Fox News because it is what their readers most want to hear – that President Trump has done a good job and other Democratic lawmakers are mostly responsible for problems in dealing with the pandemic. My Dad, however, said he wishes coverage was not so New York focused. One article on their website’s front page that I found intriguing was about Democratic Representative Karen Whitsett from Michigan who recovered from COVID-19 and says she supports the President’s efforts. Whitsett went on to say Americans should put politics aside, stop attacking President Trump and work together during the pandemic. Her message is one that would be receptive to both Democrats and Republicans. In the way that it was framed, I got the sense that Fox News felt they were giving her a national voice to say Democrats should stop attacking President Trump and focus on the country’s needs during the pandemic. One last noteworthy article I saw featured on Foxnews.com was about Vice President Mike Pence saying coronavirus could largely be behind us by the end of May.  Whether the reader agrees with this statement or not is not the point of including this article near the top of their website. This article is meant to show Fox News’s primarily right leaning readers that things are going well for the Trump administration in their handling of the pandemic. It is also meant to portray Vice President Pence in a positive light as the leader of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. Both CNN and Fox News showed their bias in their COVID-19 coverage.  My sister, Kathryn, said these biases have become more noticeable over the last few years. Foxnews.com’s top stories all showed their lean to the right. They supported President Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus and blamed Democratic lawmakers for some of New York’s problems – two things their readers like to hear. 

    The next news source I looked at was NBC. Nbcnews.com did not lean far to the left or right like CNN or Fox News, but their coverage was more unbiased. Their top story took a look inside President Trump’s temporary immagration ban. The article talked about how it did not become very seriously considered until the President tweeted about it. The article was a little critical of the process happening that way. It also made it seem impressive that the Trump administration got it all done in less than two days. Their website also prominently featured an investigation into how distributors of child sexual abuse images are getting bolder while more people are at home (and online) during the pandemic. This was a very unpolitical story with a message that was not in any way politically controversial. Neither Fox News nor CNN talked about anything related to this. It was a very good journalistic article that I have not seen anywhere else. The next article I came to discussed a new coronavirus aid bill that was passed by the House. The article discussed how both Democrats and Republicans have some issues with the bill, but ultimately it was passed because the country needed it. It was another pretty unbiased article. My eye was next drawn to an article talking about the impacts of COVID-19 on scientific research at the North and South Poles. This was a very unique article and another one I have not seen any mention of anywhere else. It was also pretty politically unbiased. The article was interesting because it showed how COVID-19 truly affects everyone, even scientists in the most remote locations. Another prominently featured article contrasted the views of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Trump on the future of the coronavirus pandemic. Nbcnews.com also had a similar article to CNN about Senator Warren’s brother dying of COVID-19. Additionally, they included a link to a live stream of President Trump’s daily press briefing. These have been very popular throughout the last couple months and have delivered great ratings to TV Networks. My family has watched many of them. My Dad said they are very informative, but can also be entertaining. NBC had very unique research throughout. From the look inside President Trump’s immigration ban, to the child sex abuse story, to the story about research at the Poles, they covered the pandemic from angles I did not see wnywhere else, and it was very interesting. Their articles also had a very global, big picture focus overall, as opposed to the left and right focuses of CNN and Fox News respectively.

    The next news outlet I took a look at was ABC News. The stories on their website had a very national focus overall. The top story on abcnews.com talked about the coronavirus aid bill that was passed by the House. The article was pretty unbiased and similar to the NBC article. The next news article I came across discussed Vice President Mike Pence’s positive outlook on the pandemic. Like the Fox News article, it mentioned how Pence said that the pandemic could largely be behind us by the end of May. Pence has been pretty public throughout the pandemic as the leader of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. This position has given Pence a truly national voice he did not have before the pandemic. The next article that caught my eye was about how the infant daughter of a New York firefighter died from COVID-19. This is obviously a very sad story, but there have been countless depressing stories about coronavirus from all different parts of the country and the globe. I thought it was very interesting they picked this one to cover, and it at least in small part further highlights the New York bias of media coverage of this pandemic. New York has become the global epicenter of the pandemic and certainly warrants lots of coverage, but readers hear about New York a lot during this pandemic and it would have been more interesting to hear about how coronavirus affected another area of the country. Another article featured prominently on abcnews.com highlighted five people who died in tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma. This was the only non COVID-19 article I found among their top stories but I think it stuck with their national focus. The severe weather that week was a large event that affected much of the country. It was appropriate for them to cover it and include it among their top stories. Of all the news outlets I looked at, this was one of the only non-coronavirus articles included in any outlet’s top stories. The final article I noticed was about how a Georgia mayor received racist text messages from an anonymous number amid Georgia’s plan to partially reopen the state.  The article discussed how the mayor was against reopening the state and how she was worried to receive such texts. This was a story I did not see covered by any of the other news outlets I checked, and it was a very important story. Many people have differing opinions on reopening the country, and it will be interesting to see those opinions come to the forefront going forward. Currently, many businesses are operating with their employees working from home, and they are wondering when the country might reopen. My Dad, an advertising executive, said working from home has gone smoothly so far, but it has not been easy. In total, ABC’s stories had a more national focus while NBC’s stories were more global.  It also seemed like many of ABC’s articles focused on more personal stories, and did a good job of relating their messages to their readers. 

My Dad works from home during quarantine.

    The final news source I looked at was WGN-TV’s website. I chose WGN because they are Chicago focused, and my family and me are quarantining in the Chicago suburbs, so we have been viewing the pandemic through a Chicago lens. Their top story was about the stay at home order being extended and amended by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Illinois was one of the first states to issue a stay at home order. Like President Trump, Governor Pritzker has been holding daily press conferences keeping the state updated on his team’s efforts to combat coronavirus. Pritzker has been pretty well received at these press conferences even as Illinois has consistently had some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States. My sister Kathryn said she feels Pritzker has been very credible throughout the pandemic. The next article I came across discussed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new team to help Chicagoland recover. Like Vice President Pence, Lightfoot is someone who has gained a much wider audience during the pandemic. Lightfoot has been vocal about slowing the spread of the pandemic in Chicago. She has gained popularity in Chicagoland over the last couple months. The next top story I saw was about the third Chicago Police officer to die of COVID-19. This is an article that is very important to Chicagoians, but would probably not appear in any media outside of Chicago. Many people throughout Chicagoland know someone who works for the large Chicago Police Department and would like to know how the virus is affecting them. Next, I came across an informational article about the new requirement by Governor Pritzker that all Illinoians wear masks in public starting May 1. This is also a very important article for WGN to include because it affects all people in Illinois. As recently as a few weeks ago, my family did not wear masks anywhere when we left the house, but even before this new requirement my Dad has insisted we all wear masks when going anywhere in public.

My family has primarily been using bandanas like this one as face coverings when going out in public.

    The final article that caught my eye was about the state parks that are reopening on May 1. This was a very nice article to include among their top stories. Many people are feeling cooped up at home because of the stay at home order, and this article gives people some options of where to safely take a scenic walk or run during quarantine. It also reminds people to get their exercise amid the pandemic. Because of WGN’s Chicago/Illinois focus, many of their stories affect my family and me directly. Their coverage of national news regarding the pandemic is pretty unbiased, but sometimes mentions how the news might affect Chicago. Their Chicago bias is certainly warranted, since most of WGN’s viewers and readers live in the Chicagoland area. Much of the news that appears on WGN affects my family and me more directly than news from national sources. 

Overall, the five news outlets I looked at were very diverse. All had a different top story, which was very interesting to me since I checked them all at roughly the same time on the same day. It was easy to see the left lean of CNN, the right lean of Fox News, the global focus of NBC News, the national focus of ABC News and the Chicagoland cocus of WGN in their stories. Each source kept their readers updated and informed but in very different ways, and in some cases with different information. A viewer could have different views on the pandemic depending on which news outlet they got their information from. My mom said this differing information can confuse viewers. While they all differed in their coverage, they all also braved the duty of reporting to the public during a truly historic pandemic, and that is absolutely something to be commended. 

A Long Journey of Zihan Wang

It’s Me! I’m Zihan Wang!

The semester of 2020 Spring is a pretty strange semester — because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the courses of this semester have to be taken online or implemented through a different approach. Such a situation reminds me of how important the back-up plans shall be, like what we have learned in the course of jour 445. 

In the class, Prof.Collins reminded us to have plans A, B, and C for any situations we have encountered, in order to make sure we can produce the videos. I have never expected that what we have learned in the course could be applied in my life so quickly — I am stuck in my home and it has been impossible to produce any work or do anything outside, only trying to produce works inside the room. Such a moment requires creativity, independence, but also a sense of crisis, which means we should always be prepared for the worst.

But still, it is impossible to imagine that the coronavirus could cause such a horrible influence in the U.S., especially in the first quarter of the year, China has provided quite enough experiences and information we need. Even Trump was racketing his nonsense, there has been proof that we could have done better than the situation we are encountering now. But that’s not only his problem, also the journalism industry, because we have failed to inform the public of the upcoming crisis. The media follows to slow, just like the package I have done about the test, too slow. That’s a combination of different packages.

Since the shelter-in-place regulation affected, I have been stuck at home for a long time. Here are some moments for me in the home.

When I was standing on the balcony of my apartment, I was looking outside, and wondering, when I could go outside?
The life of self-quarantine turns to be boring and boring. We felt that it is going to burying us — just like the paintings in the corner of my apartment.
Exercise can be necessary for this moment — but I felt that I’m just like the dumbbell, teared apart by the self-quarantine.
And when I was looking outside the window, I just found a red wall. Plain, red wall.
And this is a photo I shoot before the self-quarantine. Oh, I really missed those days.

The self-quarantine provided me the most different experience compared with normal days — when people cannot go on streets for stories, the only way they could conduct news stories is through the internet. I surf online news channels every day to keep up with where we are now in the pandemic and also learning the stories of ordinary people. A crisis is a crisis, but one can turn the worst situation into opportunities. It is a great chance for me to learn how to pick information and reorganize them into a story with a more complete format. Besides that, I also have to conduct stories about my roommates or my girlfriend — although it is not quite journalism, only a special method for contingency. 

I think the most enjoyable part of this course shall be producing newscasts in a dynamic environment. Like the first show we have done for this semester, nobody would predict the result of the impeachment release. This is a great opportunity to experience a tight working pace in a real TV newsroom.

And the journey we come through this semester, which I believe is quite the same as what other students and ordinary citizens are experiencing now. We are all in self-quarantine in our apartments in a country shut down for the pandemic, while also suffering from the same solitude, pain, and anxiety. Students are suffering from learning knowledge virtually, which actually is impossible, especially for some majors like the design. So do we. We can never conduct news in a small room without real talks to people. Citizens in this nation are suffering from anxiety of losing their jobs and shorts in their pockets — so do we. We, journalism students, are facing a terrible job-hunting season this year because of the great hit on the economy, and also have to stay in apartments without any jobs to get paid. Personally I have lost a couple of hundreds of dollars because the coronavirus has caused cancellations of several part-time working invitations — I’m a part-time photographer. 

But to different people, it can be different things. I have interviewed several people for their thoughts on how the coronavirus could impact their life. One of the people, who is my roommate, actually feels not that bad of virtual courses.

I think technology plays a vital role in my journey. Without the pieces of equipment like cameras, mics, and sound recorders, I would never be able to finish my videos. And technology plays an even more important role in my current journey: for working remotely in my apartment, all I could do is relying on my laptop and network. Through my chrome, I reach to the corners of this world. And that’s how I explore the world of journalism in such a difficult time.

And technology also helps me to conduct some videos. I still remembered the hardship I encountered for shooting the drag queen show. It was in Canopy, a local club. It was pretty dark there, and if I used my own camera for that video, that would be a disaster. But thanks to the camera from the College of Media, I could conduct a decent video and capture the highlights of the drag queens’ performances.

I heard about the virus pretty early — since it first broke out in China, I have got plenty of information before it got the outbreak in N.Y.C. At the early stage in China, I was terribly nervous, and I called my parents every day to check if they were ok and followed the necessary self-protection guidance. It was a very horrible disease and I felt very worried about my parents’ safety. But at that time, I have never expected that there could be such a terrible outbreak in the U.S., because since during the two months’ struggle, China has shown the world how we could effectively stop the spread of the disease and how we could stop the disease in a limited scale. Even because of the difference between the two nations’ political system, the U.S. could at least control the disease, but not let it spread like such a terrible condition.

But when I look back at the end of this semester, I felt that something has changed. I would not be so panic about the dynamic reality I’m encountering, and it has been easier for me to stay cool for urgent situations or breaking news. It has also been a great opportunity for me to practice viewing the events in a professional journalism view — for example, like the humanitarian disasters caused by the coronavirus, I could stay calm down and try to cover it in a professional way — I have tried in writing some practice stories of them. Also, I found that I could review the information I got in a more efficient way, like looking for different angles to cover them.

There have been many things playing a role in leading me to success for my assignments. Individually, I believe the key element is the skills to catch the opportunity — for example, when I was shooting a story of the author corner in the bookstore. There was a lecture done by guest speakers. I happened to catch a chance for shooting a video of the authors — there were plenty of people and hard to find a position to set up my camera. The other example would be the experience of shooting the story of tax assistance. In the beginning, I thought it might be just a VO, but when I got there I felt that there could be a chance to turn it into a package– only if I can catch subjects for interviewing as quickly as possible. And finally, as you can see, that was a good package. 

Self-confidence also plays a vital role at such a moment. We need to persuade our subjects for interviewing that we could offer them the best opportunity to tell the public their stories and endeavors. This request a great self-confidence that we believe what we have done is correct, is helpful and is worthful. For so many times I thought that maybe skills and talents are the most important characters we have, but after times and times that I was cast into challenging situations, I found that self-confidence is the last threshold I have to keep moving on and achieve something I want. And that helps me to finish the project about the Spring Festival Gala. The cancelation of the Spring Festival gala was pretty distressful for the Chinese student community. It was good news, but there happened to be many difficulties to finish that story, including tech issues. However, thanks to the self-confidence, I had a sharp and clear mind and finished that project.

I would bring what I have learned from this class to my future professional practice in journalism, including the confidence of our works, the vigilance of unexpected situations, and what’s more, the belief in the cooperations. All that we have learned in the journey to the end would enrich me in understanding the dynamic society, also provide necessary skills and faith in overcoming challenges upon the road. 

In the end, I would say I’m pretty proud of the works we have done for the class. It is the crystal of our cooperation, endeavor, and sacrifice. The proudest part for this semester would be the team we have, that we have come through many unpredictable situations, handled breaking news, together walked through a hard time of coronavirus, and finally achieved to the end of our undergraduate life. I would remember all the people I have met in the class, all the moments we worked together, and I will bring what I have been guaranteed in this class to the future. 

My Works Lists

VO:Purim Drag Show

VOSOTVO:AUTHOR EXCHANGE

PKG: CANCEL OF SPRING FESTIVAL GALA, TAX ASSISTANCE

SOUNDBITES:STUDENTS EXPERIENCE IN CORONAVIRUS _01, _02, _03, _04

Self-Reflection for Spring 2020

Danielle Williams

Self-Reflection 

   The third week of class I did my first News Update which stressed me out. The outline for TV1 and TV2 are entirely different so I didn’t feel like I was prepared for everything that needed to be done for a news update. I anchored almost every newscast in TV1, color-commentated and moderated a few Illini Hockey games and am an actress so talking in front of a camera wasn’t really a problem for me. That’s actually how I knew that everything that had to be done to create a news update stressed me out because my overall performance on camera was really bad. However after finishing everything and getting through the mental breakdowns of that week I learned better time-management. 

   My first news update I created a VO and VO SOT VO. For my first VO I decided to cover the re-opening of one of the Zhang Family Lawsuits. It was a little hard to find good footage that hadn’t already been used a million times when the original Yingying Zhang case was open. I went with a few photos taken during the first trial of both her family and Brendt Christensen. It occured to me that very few news outlets posted photos from her memorial, so I decided to get some footage of the memorials set up for her on Main and Goodwin.  My first Vosotvo was on the effects of the Australia fires on Australian students. I interviewed gymnast, Clay Stephens and soccer player, Ashleigh Lefevre. I worked in the sports department of the Daily Illini and still remain in contact with a lot of the athletes, coaches and Sports Information Directors that I talked to throughout the years which is why I was able to get an athlete that was currently in season. A funny thing about this is that I conducted my interview with Clay Stephens at around 7 AM so finding good lighting was a little difficult and I was forced to use a green camera since that was the only one that Ken allowed to be checked out overnight. I unfortunately wasn’t able to use the footage I captured with Ashleigh Lefevre because I didn’t have enough time to turn my vosotvo into a package. We live in Illinois so I obviously wasn’t able to get any of my own wildfire b-roll but CNN helped in that department. 

   The week after my first news update, I decided to take on the role as assignment manager. I felt that I would be more of an asset to the class that way because I could monitor everything that was going on while not worrying about submitting any assignments myself. It was also the smarter move for me because it was tech-week for the play that I was in and I also knew that I would be traveling to and from Chicago the weekend before the newscast. In my role as assignment manager, I reached out to each student in the class to ensure they were making progress on their work. I also helped the producer and assistant producer with the rundown. 

   The fifth/sixth week of class I decided to stick with making a package because I was a bit behind on the assignments that needed to be completed. Liam told us about a natural hair panel at BNAACC and I jumped on the opportunity to cover it. I really enjoyed covering this particular event because I am a black woman who loves rocking natural hair whenever I can. I managed to get shots of the speakers, the audience and the gift that was given to everyone who attended the event. I did a phone interview with Robin Collymore Henry who was the main speaker for the event. I also got a chance to interview Brittany Wright through facetime but for some reason couldn’t find the audio from the interview. Interestingly enough I found out later on that the majority of the panel were members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, a sorority that my mother has been a part of for almost 30 years. This helped tremendously because I was able to have more in-depth conversations with both speakers over the phone. My third source was Nengi Obamanu, a senior at the University of Illinois. She talked about how important an event like this was because natural hair was at one point, and still kind of is, taboo in social and professional settings.

   The last week that we were allowed on campus I completed my second news update in a less traditional way. I struggled getting this last update done. I was sick the majority of the month. In fact, I had strep and a respiratory infection that made it harder to breathe (I have asthma so breathing is already more difficult than it would be for someone without it). I shot a VO on the Open Mic Night at the Illini Union. I focused on the guest poet, Katie Kramer. The quality wasn’t what I wanted it to be as I was stuck with the green camera. The night that I finished editing this was also when we found out that the campus would be shutting down after spring break which changed a lot of things. I was in the studio with a few other people when we received the news so we decided to pre-record our news updates, cameras, lights and all. Even though I struggled to produce the program that I envisioned, it was still a fun experience. We ordered food, read through each other’s scripts and just helped each other out overall to finish our assignments. 

The switch to remote learning has been challenging to say the very least. I was forced to go home because my parents didn’t want to risk my sister or I possibly being infected. This class has probably been the most accommodating for me and I am sure other people as well. A lot of the professors are taking the “everything is normal” approach which has done nothing but frustrate students. Between having to pack most of my apartment in a day, switching to all online classes, losing graduation, losing multiple job offers and trying to stay alive, this has been the craziest time of my life thus far. Writing this self-reflection blog was surprisingly therapeutic. There’s a lot going on and as weird as it might be we really don’t have time to sit down and process it. I completed my news article a few weeks after being told about the assignment. It didn’t take very long because so much is happening and all of the news outlets in the world are talking about the virus in one way or another. I decided to write on the 5 news articles that talked about how Trump is siding with the very small percentage of the population that are protesting these quarantines and attempting to re-open select states in response to these disruptions. 

   My advice to future TV2 students and even journalism students is to get used to adversity. I’m praying nothing like this happens again but things change at the drop of a dime all of the time. It is also best to have multiple plans when shooting any media work. Whether that be a package or a vosotvo, it’s better to have to have more than less. At the beginning of the school year, you should think of about 5-6 topics that interest you and do some research to find events or stories that you can cover throughout the semester. Always have one or two ideas for a package because, as said before, things do change quite often. Try to shoot for more interviews than what you will actually use. This will save you time in the long run when you are editing your package and realize that something doesn’t fit in with the rest of your shots. Even when the event is boring, find interesting things around it that you can capture for b-roll and possibly create your story around. You should give yourself at least two weeks to complete a package. The first week you should work on the physical aspect of it which is doing your research, getting interviews and capturing b-roll. The second week should be used for editing and filing. What I mean by filing is making sure everything is air ready which consists of clean videos, scripts being in the system and everything is in playback. Also, make sure that your file is saved on multiple devices. I always made sure that my assignments were both in the class folder and a storage drive. There is nothing worse for a producer/assignment manager than having to run around the newsroom the day of a newscast because there are missing files one place or another. Find time to relax in the midst of the craziness that is journalism. It is  really easy to get frustrated by the amount of stuff needed to have a successful show so it is smart to find time to get your mind straight. Overall, have fun and make most out of the assignments you are given. 

The Many Stories of COVID-19

The Many Stories of COVID-19

by Danielle Williams

Amidst all the conversations around COVID-19, re-opening the economy was not one until now.

On April 17th, President Donald Trump introduced new guidelines aiming to slowly re-open the economy and lift the safety restrictions that were upheld in early March.

On this same day five news stations published stories that covered the President’s phases to the protests taking place during this pandemic.

USA Today as well as a local new station, Click Orlando, decided to cover the topic head on.

The article mentions the phases Mr.Trump is hoping to take to successfully pull off this idea.

The key statement that this news station wanted to convey was the President’s main statement, “We are not opening all at once, but one careful step at a time,” President Trump said.  

The two articles both have sources that opposed as well as support the President’s plans.

The USA Today ensured that they included a quote from one of the deans of the global business at The Fletcher School of Law, Bhaskar Chakravorti, that questions the President’s tactics.  

Click Orlando took it a step further and included a conservative’s view that didn’t align completely with the presidents’.

Economist, Stephen Moore, made similar remarks on Fox News a few days prior to the article’s publishing.

“Too many economist and too many politician think somehow you are just going to flip a switch…and it’s going to turn right back on,” said Stephen Moore.

The foreign perspective that BBC News gave in their article of President Trump’s plans to re-open the economy seemed to be the only true unbiased account.

In the first section of the article there is a clip of President Trump saying, “They will be able to go, literally, tomorrow,” an idea that some countries agree with.

BBC used their article to report the progress of countries outside of North America regarding their lockdowns.  

Mr. Trump’s briefing was posted on their website, but they also used Dr. Anthony Fauci as a source.

In the article, Dr. Fauci told the Associated Press that the President’s goal to re-open on May 1st is a bit optimistic.

This comes as no surprise as Dr. Fauci told the TODAY show, “As was predicted, this will only get worse before it gets better”.

Only one of these articles, USA Today, briefly mentioned the push back the government had been getting due to the lockdown.

The Yahoo News (Huffington Post) and CNBC had other plans.

Yahoo News took an alternative approach to the topic and covered the thoughts American people have on the President’s plan to re-open the economy.  

According to a Pew nonpartisan survey, 81% of Democrats were worried that the restrictions will be lifted too soon while only 56% of Republicans shared those views.

These results came about before President Trump released his plan saying, “I think 29 states are in that ballgame…they will be able to reopen again soon”.

Early Childhood Professional, Yvonne Williams, is amongst those who believe that re-opening any of the states is premature.

I understand the importance of reopening the businesses so people can return to work but I think in order for us to properly protect the public, I believe, that everyone should have the opportunity to be tested,” Yvonne Williams said.

While Yahoo News focused on the statistics, CNBC published on another pressing topic: the demand for state liberation.

The President took to Twitter to demand that certain states be freed from the pandemic-forced lockdown.

These tweets follow a group of protests that are demanding the liberation of Minnesota, Virginia and Michigan.

University of Illinois student, Courtney Williams, understands the protesters frustrations but feels that they as well as the president should focus on finding a safe solution instead of opening certain states.

I don’t think it’s a very smart idea especially since there’s not a proper cure for COVID-19 at the moment,” said the U of I freshman.

One thing that all of these articles had in common is their push to get fresh news and to inform the public of updates that affects the world.

Many of the stories that are read about COVID-19 are the same, day in and out.

These news outlets found a way to stay on topic without repeating the same news daily.