Category Archives: J445 Final Projects

The news, on re-opening businesses: yay or nay?

by Aki Akhauri

A restaurant sign saying the restaurant is closed
Many public places, including restaurants, are closed indefinitely because of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. (Credit: Aki Akhauri, March 31, 2020)

            Since several states have instituted lockdowns or stay-at-home orders because of the covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to shut down. Businesses being shut down leaves many people without an income, so there has been a push to re-open businesses even in the midst of the pandemic. I’ve picked one article each from several news sites to use an example of how they are covering this. Here’s how different news sources are covering the issue of re-opening.

NPR: Around The Country: How States Are Planning To Reopen (Apr 21)

            NPR is generally very factual in its reporting, and is a well-known news outlet. Due to being a non-profit, it does not have to worry so much about what sponsors think, though it does still have sponsors.

            This article in particular focuses on three different cities: Chicago, LA, and Dallas. These cities are different in where they are on the path to reopening. At the time this article was written Chicago’s stay-at-home order was still in full effect, while Texas was starting to reopen some businesses and LA was having protests about reopening.

            The article mentions the falling oil prices as a reason Texans are anxious to reopen soon, to keep the economy going. This is an important point and one I hadn’t considered before. It also talks about the rationale behind the Chicago and LA stay-at-home orders. It doesn’t say one solution is better than another, and remains neutral on this issue.

WESH: Florida tourism industry plans to ease into reopening (Apr 22)

            WESH is a local news station for the Orlando, FL. It is affiliated with NBC.

            I decided to analyze one of my local news organizations since I’ve been using it quite a bit. Florida’s tourism industry is one of its most important sources of income, so it makes sense for local news to report on this specific issue when talking about reopening businesses.

            This article is very short, and is accompanied by a package recorded right off the air. I think that’s strange – they didn’t even cut off the end part where Michelle thanks Jasmine for throwing it to her after the package. The b-roll of the package itself was confusing as well. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with the voice-over or the soundbite. Even though this is important information to know, I found myself distracted by these issues.

            Unfortunately there aren’t many local news sources in this area besides WESH and, and that one doesn’t even sound like a news site.

Vox: “I’m being forced to choose between my health and my job”: Georgia’s controversial reopening plan, explained (Apr 23)

            Vox is a company that, from what I know, is famous for the videos it makes explaining things. I’ve seen them on YouTube a lot. They are a left-leaning site.

            I can tell just from the headline and sub-headline (“Georgia’s governor is determined to reopen the state’s economy, ready or not.”) what the tone of this article is going to be. It looks like a relatively long article, but it repeats itself a lot. It also doesn’t flow well. It feels disjointed. It mentions something, goes to talking about something else, and then goes back to the first thing paragraphs later. If I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t finish reading this article.

Fox: Trump touts states opening ‘safely & quickly’ from coronavirus lockdowns (Apr 28)

            Fox news is famous for being a right-wing news outlet. It has a lot of viewers on its TV channel. Fox is known for generally being very supportive of President Trump and his policies. If Trump is more concerned with the economy than with stay-at-home orders, it’s likely Fox will be too.

            Fox’s coverage of the coronavirus has changed a bit over time. At first, it tried to dismiss by claiming that it was being blown out of proportion. It’s still reporting on conspiracies, though, like the one being investigated about Wuhan releasing the virus on purpose.

            This article on re-opening is a bit strange. First of all, it discusses President Trump’s tweet while quoting part of the tweet, then it quotes the whole tweet, and then it embeds the actual tweet. It does this three times in the same article. It does talk about other information, like the number of cases, but mostly it quotes Trump and repeats what he says. I could just as well go read Trump’s twitter feed rather than reading this article.

BBC: Coronavirus: This is what reopening in US looks like (Apr 29)

            BBC has reported a lot on the coronavirus, but most of the stories I saw on their front page this last week were about Europe and other countries, not the US. This makes sense since the BBC is located in Europe, and that’s where its primary audience is. I don’t know much about the BBC since I don’t read them often, being in the US and all. From what I remember, they are a reliable news source.

            This re-opening story was a story I was surprised to see, because I didn’t think the BBC would want to do such a local American story as certain places in Georgia reopening. The video was a bit boring though. I would’ve liked to go more in depth on any of the 3 places or situations mentioned in the story. Also, why was there music? There didn’t need to be music, and the music chosen set the wrong mood entirely.

            I didn’t feel like I got much out of watching the video, and frankly, it felt like a waste of time. Watching a news video should not feel like that.


            There’s a lot of coronavirus coverage out there, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Covid-19 may be ruling our lives right now, but not everything we see about it is informative or worthwhile. We’re all trying our best to put out good coverage, but it doesn’t always work out. We also have to be aware of which source we’re getting out news from. This is always important, but it’s even more important when we’re in the middle of a crisis. We have technology and we have ways to get good information now, unlike during many crises in the past, so why not use them to our advantage? The past doesn’t have to repeat itself.

Reflections on a Semester from Home

By: Aki Akhauri


            This semester was very rough. For the first half, when we were having in-person meetings and recording shows, I was too anxious to go out and interview people for my packages and VOSOTs. Because of that, I wasn’t able to get a lot of my assignments in on time. I was going to work with Professor Collins on that, but pretty much immediately after we decided that, classes got moved online, so we weren’t able to do it.

            I don’t feel like I accomplished anything in this class, but I’m sure I would have if we’d had more time. I did finish my news updates though.


This semester has been a lot different for me as a journalist outside of this class. First of all, I can’t do my job as a photojournalist for the Daily Illini or the Illio Yearbook anymore because I’m with my family and they don’t live anywhere near the University. I would really like to do my job (which practicing social distancing) but I don’t have a say in the matter.

I’ve been working on a short documentary about the impact of coronavirus while I’m here. I’m planning to use part of it for my documentary production class. When I first got to Florida in mid-March, my dad agreed to drive me around town so I could get some b-roll of what it looked like outside. At that point, people were being a lot more cautious than they are now. There were hardly any cars on the road that day. I think they’ve gotten more used to it now. The streets are never that empty anymore.

Since my parents live near Orlando, we decided to drive through the Disney area. We kept to the public roads. We found that it was pretty empty except for the people just driving through the area, even though Disney hadn’t been officially closed yet. I got some b-roll of the relatively empty place. We drove up to Disney Springs, where there are a bunch of shops, to see if that was open, but a Disney employee told us we were trespassing so we had to leave. I would have argued the point but it was obvious my dad was scared, so I didn’t.

Other than this documentary, I’ve been doing a few other multimedia-related things, but they’re not related to journalism. I don’t feel like a very good or active journalist right now. I wish I was doing more to cover the coronavirus.


As a student, having to complete my classes at home has been more of an inconvenience than a serious problem for me. I’ve done online classes before, so it’s not like that part is anything new. One problem I have with the classes is that some of my professors have never taught online before and have no idea how to do it, so I end up having to study everything on my own anyway. I’m used to this too, though.

Another problem I’ve had is that I can’t interrupt a lecture to ask questions anymore. I can do that in my class that meets through Zoom, but I can’t do it in my class that’s taught through audio powerpoints. The powerpoint class is the one I usually ask a lot of questions in. I can email the professor my questions and she’ll respond, but it’s not the same. I end up talking myself out of a lot of questions.

I was also worried about whether I’d get to go back to my apartment at all before I had to pack up and move somewhere else. Thankfully, I got accepted into the grad program at UIUC, so I get to live there for another year. It’s sad that I’ll never be able to see most of my friends again, though. I was prepared for that, being a senior and all, but I wasn’t prepared for it to happen before May.


            As a citizen, the pandemic has been mostly annoying. It’s annoying because people don’t follow the guidelines, which is just making the pandemic worse. Would it kill them to not go to the beach for a few months? A lot of us want some sense of normalcy back, but we can wait.

We drove through downtown a few days ago just to get a change of scenery. We didn’t get out anywhere. We just drove. When we got downtown, we saw a bunch of people not wearing any Personal Protective Equipment or even practicing social distancing. I was really annoyed by that.

I went to Target yesterday because my insurance only allows me to pick up my medication from CVS, and the CVS in this area is inside a Target. There were a lot of people there not wearing any kind of face covering. I know masks are hard to find, but something is better than nothing. My dad, my brother and I wear handkerchiefs over our faces because we don’t have masks. My mom wears her thinner scarves.

I know some people can’t wear masks for medical or sensory reasons, but I doubt it’s this many people.

I want to be able to go back to my apartment in Illinois, but I won’t be allowed to until things get better, and I hope things will get better by June or July, but I can’t tell. I spend a lot of time window shopping online for things I want to decorate my apartment with when I’m able to go back, like I did the month before I moved into the place. I’ve also been sewing a lot of decorations. I did a lot of sewing just to keep my hands busy during online classes. It turns out a lot of other people are also taking up sewing now though, since I can hardly find anything in the craft section of Walmart anymore.

One good thing about having to stay home all the time is that my family is spending less money. Of course, we still do online shopping like we did before, but we used to go to the shops whenever we felt like it. We didn’t always buy things, and we never bought anything expensive on a whim, but the little things add up eventually.


            Technology has made quarantine a lot easier to deal with. I don’t know what I’d do to keep myself occupied without my laptop or my phone. There’s only so many books I can read and walks I can take. I do spend time with my family, which they are happy about, but I can’t handle the amount of social interaction everyone else seems to be having with theirs, even on my best days, so I couldn’t spend all that time playing board games or anything like that. Sometimes I spend hours at a time writing in my quarantine journal. I’d have a lot less to write about if it was just me and my family.

            I’m still able to finish my classes, and I can talk to some of my friends online, so it keeps things interesting. I’m lucky that I have no more group projects and the people I need to get in touch with mostly live in the same time zone. My brother, who studies TV and Radio Production, is not so lucky, and it sounds like a pain. His college also decided to shut down while he was home on break, and he’s not even allowed to go back to the dorms to pick up his textbooks.

We’ve also been talking to our extended family in India more, since it’s no less convenient than talking to people who live nearby. We have to do everything through Zoom nowadays and I don’t think I like it. I particularly don’t like that my bath was interrupted for the call two weeks in a row, and I didn’t know in advance that the call was even happening.

            At the very least, I can keep myself busy with schoolwork and my documentary. I wouldn’t be able to make my documentary without technology either.

            As a photographer, I’ve been taking some time to practice my nature and macro photography. It turns out my phone camera is better for that stuff than my DSLR is. My DSLR doesn’t have manual focus, so it’s harder to get clear close-up pictures. My phone doesn’t have manual focus either, but it doesn’t try to override me when I tap somewhere on the screen to tell it where to focus.

            I’ve photographed a lot of flowers, insects, and spider-webs. That’s really fun, but I don’t need to be quarantined to do it. I do it all the time, even when I’m walking home from class. It’s good to have time to practice though.


            When I first heard about the coronavirus, I didn’t think it would get as bad as it did. The last pandemic I remember was the H1N1 pandemic of 2009, and that hardly impacted my life at all. I was in India at the time, and no one I knew got H1N1. Schools and workplaces didn’t shut down. The 2010 Commonwealth Games went on in Delhi as planned. It was barely a blip on my radar. At first, that’s what I expected Coronavirus to be like.

            I didn’t understand how big of a deal it was until I found out the University was canceling in-person classes for the rest of the semester. My dad called me in a panic, and so I started panicking too. I wasn’t panicking about the virus, though. I was panicking because my plans for the rest of the semester had just gone out the window. My dad put it into words.


            I panicked about this off and on for a month. It was more of a low-grade panic than what ­­­­I felt when my dad first called me, but it was still there. I ended up having a huge fight with my dad. We didn’t talk for almost a week. We talked about the whole situation afterwards and I feel less anxious now.


            I think initially, I mostly thought of the pandemic as a regular citizen. Sure, it was newsworthy, but I didn’t think much about it because it wasn’t impacting my life yet. Now, I’m thinking about it equally from both perspectives. I want to be covering the virus and its impacts more because it’s important for everyone to know about it. People need information about the impact of the virus and where we are in the process of stopping the pandemic. I also wish the whole thing would end already so I could go back to my regular life.


            I can’t say what led to my success because I did not succeed.


            Critical thinking is important because it helps us come up with backup plans when our original plan didn’t work out. I wasn’t good at coming up with backup plans this semester. Critical thinking is also useful for solving a problem quickly, like if we are in the newsroom and the teleprompter isn’t working, and we decide quickly to use paper scripts instead.

            This is especially important in these times because we never know what will come next. We constantly have to change our plans and solve problems on the fly.


            Self-confidence is important because if you don’t have at least a little of it, you’ll end up like me and not get anything done. Self-confidence is good when you know your limits so you know when and how you have to do things to get the assignment done on time.


            I’ve learned that working in a team can be fun sometimes. Well, I learned that before this class, but it’s what I remember most about it.


THIS CLASS: I am most proud of how I was able to help out in the newsroom, whether it was writing or editing CNN VOs, teaching someone how to run playback, or running camera. I like helping.

THIS SEMESTER: I am proud of myself for being able to keep up with classes even though we have to do them remotely now. I know a lot of people are having trouble with that.

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. 

How China Get Portrayed in Coronavirus News Coverage

How China Get Portrayed in Coronavirus News Coverage

By Megan Xu

Quarantine Life – Mengjia Xu

I was on my way to the supermarket, wearing a N95 and gloves.


Currently there is an outbreak of a novel coronavirus infection, and people are getting nervous about this virus. Novel coronavirus is concerning because no humans have immunity to it, and it’s not the same as SARS. It’s a virus that mainly affects our respiratory system, so mostly our lungs and air pipes, the danger is the disease passing from humans to humans.. It is a new strain that most likely developed from an animal in Wuhan, which then passed to humans. Prior to last night, the coronavirus had reached its 3,249,022 confirmed case in the United States, causing a total of 230,804 deaths.

Five News Outlets

I will do a comparative study on five news outlets about how they covered coronavirus: CNN, AP, The New York Times, NPR and Live Science. 

First of all, a brief introduction on each of the media outlets. CNN ranked third in viewership in 2019, averaging 972,000 viewers. Globally, CNN International is seen over 212 countries and territories. The network is known for its dramatic live coverage of breaking news, some of which has drawn criticism as overly sensationalistic, and for its efforts to be nonpartisan, which have led to accusations of false balance.

Live Science on the other hand, is a science news website run by Future via Purch. It focuses on covering scientific breakthroughs, stories with scientific facts and odd facts from around the world in an online newsmagazine format.

Social Distancing – Mengjia Xu

Social distancing notice is posted in the County Market.

How They Covered Virus?

To this day, people are getting increasingly curious about where coronavirus originated. Though there’s no certain answers, multiple conspiracy theories have widely circulated on the internet. President Trump believes China intentionally handled the coronavirus pandemic in a way to make him lose his re-election bid. He even accused the World Health Organization of being a ‘pipe organ’ for China. With blame on China rolls up, AP published an article with the title “Trump harshly blames China for pandemic; a lab ‘mistake’?” Similarly, CNN wrote the title “Trump administration draws up plans to punish China over coronavirus outbreak.” While The New York Times takes the stance that the overwhelming probability of coronavirus is that it leapt from animal to human in a non-laboratory setting. The Guardian also referred to The New York Times and says intelligence agencies are forced to link coronavirus to Chinese labs under Trump’s pressure. Life Science on the other hand reveals the science and rationale behind why there’s no way coronavirus originated in Wuhan’s lab. 

This is a situation that’s changing all the time, and media outlets are already polarized by taking different stances. Journalists are biased in a way of choosing whose opinion they decide to write on, Trump’s? Or the U.S. intelligence agencies’?

Change Over Time 

The conspiracy theories will continue to grow until the real reason behind COVID-19 being found out. Some say it’s China’s fault, while others claim people could have died of coronavirus early on, but mistaken it as flu. Until then, each party will argue its stance to the death.

What Does It All Mean?

Because mass media are publicizing Trump’s criticism of China, racism and fear against Chinese people are now spreading along with the coronavirus. It’s unwarranted and hateful. Joe Biden also released a video to assail Trump for not doing enough to push China to reveal its “secret”. Before any official conclusion of COVID-19’s origin being made, President Trump shouldn’t blame China for the pandemic, using it as a political weapon to intensify battle with China.

Fridge – Mengjia Xu

My fridge is full of frozen food.

What’s Next?

Misinformation is what needs hype amongst people. As students in the community, through all our social networking channels, we should strive to make sure that the misinformation is not being spread. As long as you are limiting the spread of misinformation and rumors, that is a good service for the community.

There’s a lot of misinformation, and there’s a lot of conspiracy theories going on on the internet. So if we are making sure people are using the right resources, like the CDC or the WHO for information, it would be the best way to improve the image of what’s going on. 

Quarantine Diary Day 39

Quarantine Diary Day 39

I was doing my standup (sit down) shot.

As the semester approaches its end, I start to think about what I accomplished in this semester, and where the road will lead to in the future. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I suddenly got tons of time to reflect upon myself, to scrutinize my work, and to write this self-reflection blog.

I walked away with solid technical skills and professional broadcast experience from class Journalism 445. I become more independent, and know to act accordingly to different situations more swiftly. 

I was able to complete three packages, one VO, and one news update for this semester. The first package I did was coronavirus’ impact on campus. At that time, the administrator of Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Julie A Pryde told me the coronavirus situation in Champaign-Urbana is fairly optimistic. Nobody had been tested positive for COVID-19 and it is safe for people to go to public areas without a mask on. Ironically now, we can see how quickly the pandemic struck our area with 120 cases and 6 deaths as of April 30th. Looking back at the package, I wish C-UPDH’s misinformation didn’t get aired. If people had known early on that they need to be cautious and wear masks in public spaces, maybe less people would get infected. 

I was interviewing Wei Hu, a Chinese student from Wuhan.

On the bright side, I was able to interview a Chinese student from Wuhan. Being cyber-bullied by her identity, it is a difficult time for her to deal with COVID-19 while convincing her friends to wear masks. She clarified the rumor that not all Chinese people eat bats. The majority of Chinese regard eating bats as gross and unbelievable. I felt lucky to have reported this international topic from a local angle. Narrowing it down, we see how COVID-19 is affecting local health centers, Chinese students, and the rest of our life.

Footage of the Cat Show

I also had the chance to shoot the Cat Show as my third package. Approximately 150 cats on the show——haven’t seen so many cats in my life. I have no knowledge about how to breed cats or judge them. Worse, I cannot even name a breed. The only way to familiarize myself is to talk to people. Knowing I only needed three interviews, I still talked to six participants, two judges and one organizar of the event. Knowing I only needed a minute and half of footage, I still stayed at the event for three hours, until my hands were all sweaty. I push myself to always go beyond expectations, carry more footages and interviews than I possibly needed. In this way, I can pick the best shots instead of filling my track with mediocre ones.

In the middle of the semester, classes were switched online, posing huge obstacles for the rest of journalism classes. Thanks to the plans A, B, C Professor Collins gave us, we were able to continue learning in another form——reading news article and gather interviews.

I was adding Chinese subtitles for my vlog. This is a shot of our trunk full of groceries.

Facing a pandemic unlike any other semesters, our news shows had to pause. However, grounded at home doesn’t mean we can’t do journalism. I decided to start a vlog series recording my quarantine life. It’s a bit hard to carry cameras around, so I take Professor Collins’s advice to use a phone to record my daily routine. My video shows what I cooked, how I exercised and what I did at home. The longest time I stayed at home was ten days, without even leaving my door to throw the trash out. I normally only go out for grocery shopping when supplies run out. I would wear a mask and gloves to the County Market and swipe the food for next month all in. I would buy a total of approximately 400 dollars of groceries, which takes forever to get them from the car to my room. It is an unusually hard time for all of us, so I hope people who watch my vlog feel less anxious when they see someone is also experiencing the difficulties as they do. 

Professor Collins’ TV2 instilled passion for broadcast journalism in me. I started to make videos not only in a classroom setting, but also a real-world environment where I build my career on. UIUC has been an amazing journey and getting to know you all definitely is the best experience I have. As I continue my education in Northwestern Medill next semester, I hope to learn to fuse data-driven insights into serious reporting. My career goal is to develop a more well-rounded news app. One in which people are no longer only recipients of, but also contributors to the news flow. Most importantly, it also analyzes the trend in already distributed news, to reveal commonalities among related events, which further helps the government unearth underlying issues, and implement measures to combat tragedies like COVID-19 pandemic. 

The words that I speak are spirit

By: Taylor Howard 

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 , “ What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequence of your words.”; this means that the words you speak over life can manifest. My name is Taylor Howard and I grew up in the South suburbs of Chicago in a home rooted in Christian foundations. I firmly believe that the lessons instilled in me have been applicable not only to my faith life, but within my professional development as well.  I have always been a dreamer and take on any task with enthusiasm and a learning spirit. My optimism and drive have gotten me through my collegiate career, and with my final semester coming to an end, I have learned so much about myself as a professional, student, journalist and a young adult. 

My experience in college has been nothing short of amazing. I was afforded the opportunity to serve in leadership positions, obtain a respectable GPA, and have joined extracurriculars that helped me advance in my career, all while still allowing time to have fun and spend time with my friends as well. Before my final semester began, despite the challenges of classes, I wrote these words on a Post-It Note to say every day until graduation, “ This will be your most pivotal semester, but your best semester yet!”

Little did I know how drastic and unpredictable this semester would play out…


The experiences from the College of Media and the Journalism department have created a platform for me to be more versed in multimedia and understand the dynamics and ethical standards of this profession, however TV1 and TV2 taught me how to be an effective reporter and to never sell myself short. I’d like to consider myself an optimistic person, so I would  handle the pressure of the newsroom with ease right? Uh…. maybe not!

Initially, I was discouraged, because I felt like many of my peers were more advanced with Adobe, broadcasting writing and editing; not to mention I was not learning as fast as others. I’m sure you all know at this point that the news waits for NO ONE( if you do not know this yet, by the end of taking this course you will) . However, Dr. Collins and my classmates challenged me to optimize my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I quickly remembered that if I keep speaking on the things I am not good at, rather than embracing what I am good at, I will continue to lack confidence and never succeed in these goals. As I recalled the Bible verse as aforementioned, I changed my language from “ I can’t” to “ In due time, with hard work and determination, I will”. 

… And that is exactly what I did. I knew that I had Leadership experience and was organized, so for our first news cast, I agreed to be the assignment manager, the position that handles the logistics of each newscast and ensuring all content is done by the deadline. Boy what this crazy! It was already challenging to manage all the reporter’s individual work, but the morning of our first newscast, our 30 minute segment was extended to 45 minutes! Myself and the producer of the week had to quickly assemble a game plan on how to add content to the show and I was able to get a live guest and still ensure that everyone still met their deadlines. Yes, there were many issues that arrayed, but for our first show and for the position I was in helped me realize that I have the flexibility, leadership and tenacity that it takes to work in media. My classmates and I had a unique relationship, as we were not just peers, but each other’s biggest supporters. Everyone was very supportive and assisted one another with their packages and assignments, which helped me catch up and learn how to edit faster and more effectively. Though there were mistakes, I successfully did my first news update, was the weatherwoman (1:21) and my package ran in our newscast (12:32) ! Myself and my classmates were getting in the swing of the routine of things… until March 13, 2020, when we began to receive information via email about closing University buildings and modifying face- to- face interaction to online learning.  


Hold up… this was not how I planned to end my college career!

When I received the initial emails, I was confused, yet was not concerned about the virus. As it was to many citizens in the United States, no one knew what was going on regarding the virus, other than how fast- spreading it is. I was not expecting that within a span of five days would mean my commencement and graduations would be cancelled, my internship opportunities have either been halted or cancelled, and had to say goodbye to my colleagues prematurely. Like many students, I am in a state of devastation and saddened by the current circumstance of how the duration of the semester will pan out.

Just as quickly as college was changing, the community and campus town that were my homes, did not seem so familiar. The Chicagoland area, known as the “City that Never Sleeps”, was now empty. The small interactions I encounter with strangers throughout my day- whether at a grocery store or at a local restaurant, people barely made eye contact. The joy and pleasure I had attending church services and shopping centers, I now have to go online. This is the normacely of life.

What hit me the most however, is that reality began to set in that due to the abrupt interruption, I was unable to prepare for my post graduate plans like I anticipated.  I did construct my reel yet, I wanted to put more content out, I wanted to continue working on my tone and practice at Richmond Studios after classes, etc. However, I was not afforded with the resources such as camera equipment and a Mac computer to work with Adobe applications. Imposter syndrome set in quickly and I began to get discouraged once again. For the first few weeks after spring break, I was extremely unmotivated and did not know I was able to finish strong in my classes.However,  It is no coincidence that I was reassured by the verse that changed my mindset throughout my life! I did not realize at the time; how applicable this quote would be in many situations throughout my life.


 On Thursday, March 19, I began to “reset” and prepare for alternative ways to achieve academic and professional success by utilizing an unfamiliar learning platform. While adjusting to online classes, I am also challenging myself to find creative ways to ensure that my organizations are remaining compliant and diversifying program planning. As I began to change my mindset, I realized that the lessons I have learned in TV1 and especially TV2, that as journalists, our careers have prepared us to deal with the unpredictable! As I have stated, the news does not stop for anyone…. And neither should we( journalists). Sure, I experienced some difficulties navigating online classes and staying on top of my school work, but I had to adapt to the changes and spend extra time familiarizing myself with it. Additionally, I faced a lot of technical problems as well. I did not have a Mac computer, but the computer I did have broke; because of that, I was not able to get on my zoom calls and it was setting me back on my homework assignments. Rather than giving up, I called into my classes, got additional office hours and borrowed a computer from the media center. 

I began thinking as a journalist, and not as a regular citizen. Journalists embrace change and find alternative ways to inform the public. Journalists are flexible and move with urgency. Journalists put their all into their content. Journalists never give up on their purpose and platform. I can confidently say this, as I gained this through quarantining. Most importantly, I learned how to be a critical and independent thinker. The Journalism department at the U of I challenges their students to use autonomy and express oneself.  TV2, however, introduced me to a new way of thinking about the content in which I put out. As this class operates as a student- produced show, our peers are tested to help us make more reasonable and sound decision making when it comes to the quality of our work. Dr. Collins encouraged healthy disagreements and taught us how to balance challenging, yet respecting one’s way of thinking; we collaboratively helped each other be better decision makers. I cannot stress the importance of trying to master this, as we will make bigger, more impactful decisions in our future. 

During the pandemic, the logic of critical thinking has helped me analyze my issues at hand ( technology issues and  lack of motivation) and come up with strategies of a plan of action on how to overcome these obstacles. I learned the value of planning ahead and celebrating “small victories” of completing homework assignments on time, etc. by treating myself to a treat. As my class is the producer of our own news article for our alternative final project, I have to make all the decisions for the betterment of my personal project. Utilizing the exercises from class, I weigh all the pros and cons of a story and question the “why” of my angle. Even though I wish that I was in the newsroom with my classmates, quarenting has helped me become a better journalist and adult. 


As my time at the University of Illinois has come to an end, I cannot forget the lessons, experiences and privileges that I have had over these past four years. I am grateful that I was challenged in my TV2 class and I would be remiss if I did not share a few suggestions on how to navigate through this class. Yes, we know the obvious: to work hard, to not miss deadlines and to go to class, but here are some that are often overlooked and that I will carry on with me for the rest of my life: 

  1. Never miss an opportunity- no matter how substantial, or small a position might be, ensure that you are making the most out of the class and gain as much holistic experience as you can; you never know if saying “yes”, might open a door for you.
  2. There is always room for you to get better- We are all students seeking media jobs after we graduate. Take the initiative to do the extra package, to stay later to learn the switch board, to be the producer more than a few times, ask your peers for help! The amount of effort you put in will reap wonderful results!
  3. In the words of Ken Erdey, “It’s just TV”- Public speaking is a difficult task! Although I have experience, anchoring is another ball game. Initially, I used to get down on myself when I made a mistake, but I quickly realized that I must not let it define me- I must move forward. I have learned, outside of journalism, no matter the obstacles I face, I can always prevail! This mindset is so crucial to become the best you can be. If you don’t believe in you, who will? 
  4. Lastly- “pay it forward”, something I will take with me for the rest of my life. News is not a one an show and there are many moving parts. It is essential to work collaboratively with your peers and create content that is ethical, tasteful and relevant for the audience they are informing. It was inspiring for me to be in a class of students who were intelligent and brought different perspectives and promoted inclusivity. Help one another, as we all impact each other in some way. 


I will miss the many memories of being in TV2. I will remember the hustle and bustle of Newscast days and the urgency we all had to meet deadlines, I will remember the laughs, encouraging conversations we had and the music breaks we did. Most importantly, I will remember the late nights before a newscast, how my class worked diligently to have the most perfect show the next day. As I reflect and conclude my final blog, I can genuinely say, I am proud of myself. I am proud that I am more intentional with my reporting and that I can convey a story more effectively. I am proud that I carried out my Post- It. 

“ This will be your most pivotal semester, but your best semester yet!”

Sure, I have had more eventful semesters, but unlearning bad habits, prioritizing my mental and physical health, adapting to the normalcy of life and choosing joy in a time like this has undoubtedly made this the most provital, but best semester. My words that I speak are spirit.

More than a Statistic; Surviving as a minority during the pandemic

By Taylor Howard 

A little over a month after President Trump announced the national “shelter-in-place”, an order that all residents must stay home, US coronavirus cases have surpassed 1 million and the death toll continues to rise. 

Though deaths rates are the highest in the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, it was recently discovered that minority communities are disproportionately affected by the virus.

Five articles and media outlets covered their reasoning and perspective on the increase in cases within minority groups. 

While CNN, CBS and British Broadcasting Corporation are news organizations, YouTube and Twitter are web applications that connect people around the world through dialogue through visuals or through text. 

CNN is an American news based television network and it is owned by the following: CNN worldwide, a unit of WarnerMedia, a division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia. Since its founding in 1980 by Ted Turner, it has turned into a 24-hour cable channel and has over 91 million television household subscribers. 

The worldwide streaming broadcast station, CBS News has been on television since its founding in 1927 by William S. Paley and Arthur Judson in New York. CBS broadcasting is a news division of American television and radio service. Though not 24 hours on television, They now operate as a 24-hour digital news network and have over 4 million subscribers. 

Localizing things a bit, the British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service in Westminster, London. Known as the oldest national broadcaster since its founding in 1922, As it is owned by the public and covers over 14 channels.

YouTube is an American online video-sharing platform. Founded in 2005 by Jawed Karim, Steve Chen and Chad Hurley in San Bruno, California, the platform is one of Google’s biggest subsidiaries and brings in over $1.6 billion each year. It houses many news corporations and has over 1.3 billion users. 

Launched in 2006 by several men including Evan Williams and Noah Glass, Twitter is an American blogging and social networking service. As Twitter averages 1.6 billion search queries a day, and holds over 330 million users.

On April 7, 2020, President Trump admitted the racial disparity at the task force briefing, but unsure of what the cause is.

“Why is it three or four times more so for the black community as opposed to other people?” Trump said. “It doesn’t make sense, and I don’t like it…”    

Trump may be unsure on how to solve the issue, but CNN as well as the local station CBS News mentioned that inequity in minority communities make the citizens more vulnerable to COVID-19.  

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot said the death toll for Black Chicagoans was seven times higher than other groups. 

“The numbers take your breath away,” she said. “The distribution of this disease tells a story about resources and inequality.” 

CBS News mentioned the lack of healthcare and under reporting among minority residents in Chicago. However CNN reported ways the disparity gap is affecting minorities around the country, especially African Americans. 

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said this conversation is long overdue. 

“My office has been talking about the need for people to understand when they are at risk and when to intervene,” he said. 

The video proceeded with Adams listing several factors such as low socioeconomic status, overcrowding of cities and generational health issues like diabetes. 

Though CBS was more specific to Chicago in its initial article, both news organizations used numerical data to educate the public on how the fast- spreading disease through video and graphics. 

(From Left) This graph shows the percentages of population in its comparison to death rate in several US states. The other graph shows the case rates of coronavirus by race. 

Whether it was local or national news, the focus of the articles was to address the gaps in healthcare and statistical data, as well as credibility in their choice of sources. 

Race is still a factor in this newsroom, however BBC took a slightly different approach addressing the disparities. Their article focused on specific examples, rather than just explaining race. 

The article is loaded with many factors pertaining to the coronavirus, which includes income inequality, occupational factors, housing differences and more. Among the several factors listed, food insecurity and massive layoff was mentioned as a potential factor in obtaining health problems, due to lack of nutrition. 

New York resident Cherlora Williamson is a byproduct of this effect. 

Williamson has been put on furlough and is seeking to apply for unemployment. 

“Instead of making 3 thousand dollars a month, I will only be making $600/month,” she said. “That’s basically being unemployed because my rent, utilities are 900/month.” 

The holistic perspective of the BBC article is similar to the CNN article, as they both highlighted issues in America. BCC took it one step further, by highlighting global inequality. 

As the news outlet highlighted inequality, the article also breaks down racial concepts like environmental injustices and racial biases.  

Not mentioned in the previous articles aforementioned is mentioning cultural factors. BBC reporter shared how biases can discourage minority groups from wearing masks  in fear of “ being seen as a criminal or dangerous, rather than as simply protecting their own health.

Senior in Education Ty’Kira Dubose said that masks may be seen as demeaning  to most. 

“In terms of pretty much post- 9/11, I think that for all minority students, specifically of the Islamic nationality,” she said. “I think that has then triggered other minority groups to fear what happens or being judged by having their face covered.” 

BBC did not use graphics or videos, however, they used photojournalism and quotations to convey their message in informing the public. Rather than reporting on facts, this article used a more emotional perspective. 

The similarities among the news organizations are challenged to remain objective, while Twitter users are challenged to exercise their freedom of speech. 

With exercising freedom, comes with conflicting viewpoints. One Twitter account stated their opinion that constates the articles used. 

The user said in a Tweet, “Corona is not a racist disease stop. people are getting it because they’re being stupid and going out and touching…”.  This form of social media has become a direct source of news outlets. The strategy behind posting such tweets is to provide immediate response and can subconsciously skew the way people perceive specific issues. 

A person’s opinion holds validity in which the platform they serve and what Twitter and YouTube have in common is the control users have to post, with no limitations. Used by many news outlets, the video platform captures an array of topics. 

It might be questioned on whether or not a disease can, or cannot be racist, but on ABC’s YouTube, Dr. Fauci said that disparities cannot be overlooked after the coronavirus. 

“We are very concerned about that and it’s very sad, but there is nothing we can do about it right now, except to give them the best possible care with its complications.”

ABC posting the task force briefing is another way to reach large masses of people. Because YouTube is the largest video hosting website, the wanting to publish on the channel has increased due to the phenomenon of visual journalism. 

The emphasis on racial disparities is fairly newer information in the media, however, each platform continued to seek additional solutions. 

Circling back to news outlets CNN and CBS, both platforms have utilized video reporting instead. Both produced packages, however, their target audiences have both expanded. 

In the beginning of April when both of the articles were initially published, CNN provided national coverage regarding minority groups and CBS covered local news. However, in the recent articles published, CNN extended their target audience to global news and CBS extended their audiences to national coverage. 

The tone of the articles has taken two different approaches-  the UK minority coverage is updating the increase of minority deaths are causing citizens to make coffins, while the U.S. minority population is getting the virus at a rapid rate, testing sites are being prioritized for communities, like New York. 

“So in Brooklyn alone there are 2.5 million people. So once again, I think they are trying to do their best to provide testing centers close to or in each neighborhood, but I feel like it’s unrealistic. “

Less than 24 hours after its initial post, BBC did not sway from their ethos strategy and also posted a video. This time around, the news organization uploaded a package on YouTube and discussed the healthcare workers who had died. Since the initial article published on April 21, BBC has reached more audiences outside of their website through video outlets and social media outlets. 

Speaking of social media outlets, Twitter audiences continued to voice their opinion regarding the impact on minorities. Whether or not users agree, the application provides an outlet for people to say what they want to say. BBC is an example of how tweets incite opinion. 

Lastly, YouTube has been partnering with various news outlets and has provided NBC, Global News and more. The number of views for packages and briefings have remained consistent throughout the last month. 

  Pew Research has proven that social media has surpassed print newspapers as a source for American. As one-in-five U.S. adults said that they often use social media to retrieve their news over print, consumers can have all the information they need with a touch of an app, and with limited text. 

With nearly 2.4 billion internet users, 64.5 percent utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other non traditional media outlets. It is shown that despite initial publications on such topics as minority issues during a pandemic, news outlets are aware that visualization grabs people’s attention quickly.

The phenomenon of visual journalism has been prevalent within the 21st century and has increasingly become more popular. With the absence of video, photos, or audio journalism, the story will lack in the quality of coverage of the effects of an issue such as this. 

Using microblogging websites and YouTube with open commentary allows news to be reshared, but has outlets for people to engage and express their opinions as well. It provides a diversity and point of view that objective news outlets cannot provide. 

Senior in the College of Media, Coltrane Zerai-Che agrees that having a platform to voice her opinions has heightened her interest with worldly issues. 

“A lot of times when opinions are based, people want facts to back them up and people are looking for credible and reliable resources and oftentimes a place where you can get those reliable resources are through the news .” 

There is power in respected media outlets and informing the public, but influence in citizen journalism and the freedom of opinion is a privilege Americans have. The mass media plays a crucial role in the millennial generation and by providing a public space for that, it allows one to express themselves, as well as encompass large numbers of people worldwide as well. 

The coronavirus still does not have a cure, but public officials and healthcare/ frontline workers are working to flatten the curve. Despite the differences of the platforms, one thing that remained consistent was the concern to address the disparities in the world. The media industry is only getting more creative in its way of storytelling and traditional networks are shifting with the culture. 

Statistics provide audiences the facts. Photos and Videos show audiences the reality. Social media gives audiences the ability to talk through issues and seek change in communities in which they live. Visual journalism allows audiences the most authentic story. 

Zerai-Che said she believes as journalism increases its multimedia dynamics, it will convey more symbolism and emotion. 

“When I think about how a picture can capture a story, I think of the quote, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” she said , “Those images tell those stories through those words.”  

With these pictures and addressing racial polarization through these platforms, change can happen in the near future.

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.

So Long UIUC

Coronavirus Dilemma as a Student

By : Armani Baker

         My spring 2020 semester has been unpredictable, stressful, insightful and fun. Although I learned a lot this semester, the main thing that comes to my mind is time management. WHEW! To begin with, I spent Monday-Thursday evening on campus and Friday-Sunday at home in Chicago. I wanted to keep my part-time job in Chicago while still being a full-time college student. Who does that? This girl does. However, I’ve always chosen to do multiple jobs and or internships while in school. No Days off…  Not only did the miles begin to add up on my car, but my homework began to increase. Therefore, I had no choice but to figure out time management. On the first day of class, we received the syllabus and on that same day I planned out how I was going to complete all of the assignments while having this loaded schedule. Once I realized that news updates would probably take more time to complete than packages, I made a goal to complete both of my news updates before spring break. I am happy to share that I completed my goal. 

         The first assignment that I completed was the news update #1. Within this new update I completed a VO about a campus recreation cooking class and a VOSTVO about the “Art with A Queen workshop” at the Spurlock Museum. I absolutely loved shooting both the cooking class and the art workshop, because I love food and colors. There were so many opportunities to get close-up and medium shots of colors, food and interaction within these projects. I am pretty confident when shooting footage. Self-confidence is important when completing assignments because self-doubt just wastes time, and there is no extra time in broadcast journalism (at least in my opinion.) When you exude self-confidence, your work will get done much faster… having a “just do it” mentality is very effective. However, I still struggle with putting all of my footage together without the content looking choppy and this is evident in the final product of my news update #1. 

         The second assignment that I worked on was package #1. This package was about the online black-owned business directory “Buy Black Chambana.” Completing this package was a struggle because I shot all three of my interviews in two days and edited the entire package the morning of because by the time that I arrived at Richmond Studios, the lab was full for the night, due to the labs in Greg Hall under construction. So, there I was that Thursday morning, editing up until the time of the show. I was beyond overwhelmed because I chose to take an opportunity to work All Star Weekend in Chicago as a production assistant for two different companies, making my time on campus very limited to finish this package. I encountered other challenges besides time, trying to finish this assignment. I struggled with finding sources, editing with a clean flow and adding “file” for courtesy to clips that I didn’t shoot before the start of the newscast began. I wish I would have shot two of my interviews in better locations but shooting interviews in between classes doesn’t allow you much time to make executive decisions. A piece of advice I would give to future student is to allow yourself more than two days to complete a package and always have a back- up source in mind. Dr. Collins expressed to the class to always have a Plan A, B, and C and I will continue to apply this mentality to my work ethic. 

         The last assignment that I completed before COVID-19 interrupted my last semester as an undergrad was my news update #2. As I stated above, I like to shoot stories that I know will have a lot of color and human interaction. Within this update, I shot a VO about the campus student elections and a VOSOTVO about Hamamatsu Girls Day at the Japan House (used in the 5pm newscast.) Well, this day was overwhelming as well because I had two phone interviews which took away time from me learning how to do playback for the show. Luckily, I have amazing peers and classmates that helped me learn playback in less than 10 minutes. Which brings me to the point of how important collective collaboration is in broadcast news. If it were not for my peer’s assistance and help, I would not have been able to successfully fulfill my role for playback. Another piece of advice I have for future students is always be willing to help your classmates and do not be afraid to ask for help.

         Let’s talk about Coronavirus… I noticed that my journey as a student online is completely different than a student in person. I always complete homework at the communications library because it is very difficult for me to focus on academic work at home. I do not think I have completed a homework assignment at home since high school.  The days go by much faster at home… and I developed a new skill of setting alarms for everything such as to drinking water, calling family or friends, relaxing and to complete homework. While completing work remotely, I have to set alarms on my phone in order to stay on top of homework. If I do not set alarms, I will easily finish a Netflix series and lose a day of work. Another piece of advice would be to set alarms during quarantine, it really helps!

         It’s the end of the semester and I am most proud of my ability to complete one package, both of my news updates, two VO’s and two VOSTVO’s all before spring break. 

I am most proud of my ability to balance so much at once and still be able to get my work complete in this semester. I will remember all of our long Wednesday nights in Richmond Studios editing until midnight, ordering dinner together and our ability to help each other get our work done before the 1pm Thursday deadline. Our teamwork as a class was really remarkable, I have never had such a supportive community of classmates in my entire college experience, and I am very grateful for this experience. 

Coronavirus Dilemma as a person/family member/friend

         When I first heard about the virus, I relied heavily on my faith to get through this crisis. I continued to pray and have faith that everything would be okay. Fast forward to the day we received the email that classes would move to online format, I was like okay this is going too far…what is happening? My feelings about my faith have remained the same, but my feelings about this process are just nonexistent at this point. I’m tired of being on lock down but I do plan to follow the rules and stay in-doors. 

         Technology has played a major role in my journey of quarantine. I am blessed to be home with my family, as this is definitely a privilege during this crisis. However, I do not have the privilege of seeing some of my closest friends that I would usually see almost every other weekend. Our hang outs have transitioned to zoom calls and active group chats. 

Coronavirus Dilemma as an aspiring professional journalist

          Considering we are facing a pandemic-unlike other semesters, I noticed that a lot of working professionals and students in the field are offering free webinars to help people stay motivated during this crisis. For example, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel “Journalism: Who is telling our story?” at #TheNextStopCon a free digital conference that promotes horizontal networking for college students from underrepresented communities. I also noticed that for the first time in my collegiate career I do not have a detailed plan for my future. I normally plan out my entire year as an aspiring journalist. Now, I have no clue what my future will look like. Unfortunately, my summer internship was cancelled, and I was devasted. This was the second year that I applied for this position and I finally got it. I know that many other students have lost their summer internships due to COVID-19 and I hope that other opportunities become available as we have all worked so hard to get these opportunities. 

         I think I viewed everything that was happening like everyone else. I experienced so many losses such as graduation, my internship, my apartment on-campus, human interaction and the list goes on. I had so many plans that quickly became extinct due to this virus. Although all of these losses hurt, I am so grateful to have my health and the fact the people that I love are still healthy and alive. This virus has reminded me that I am truly blessed. Seriously, if you are reading this right now… you are blessed. 

         As I move forward in my life, I learned that there is always a resolution to conflict if you plan ahead of time. I learned this from simply being a student in this class, there were so many moments where myself and others had to improvise in order to get the job done and I plan to keep this mentality throughout my life and future career. Overall, Journalism 445 can be overwhelming, but it is an incredible experience that will not only challenge you, but it will build a strong work ethic and a supportive community of peers that truly care about each other and the work that you produce. 

With love, light and HOPE


Let’s do this one last time

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera

By: Alexandar Aguilera

My last semester as a college student was different and I think many other students would say something similar. I went about my semester like I had in previous years and did what I had to do in order to pass my classes. All of a sudden I went back home and found out I wouldn’t be able to walk across the stage for graduation. If there is one big thing I learned this past semester it was to roll with the punches.

I had many days where I was fed up with school. Taking one day at a time was the best piece I gave myself to get through any tough day. But they weren’t all that bad. I think what I always enjoyed was just hanging out with my friends. Knowing there were other people going through the same stuff as I was made the journey a little easier. 

Obviously with a world changing pandemic it made this semester a lot different from others. As a graduating senior the realization hit me that I will be entering a tough job market. In general I’ve had to think about my future more in this semester than any other semester. For the first time I really don’t know what’s in front of me. I feel the journey of this semester has been different mainly because it’s sort of a transition point for me. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A basketball court sits empty during COVID-19

When I first heard about COVID-19 I didn’t fully understand the scope of it. I probably reacted differently to COVID-19 than most people. In all honesty I didn’t realize how big it was until NBA player Rudy Gobert got the virus. Sports has and always will be a passion of mine. To see something I’ve admired since I was little come to a sudden stop was the realization that this thing is serious. 

With technology being the way it is made this whole pandemic scary. Hearing everyday a couple hundred people a gone because of a virus is just frightening. It’s hard to avoid when it’s the first thing you see on your phone or the first thing you hear on TV. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A plant overlooks a vacant street.

It’s weird that even though things sort of look the same, nothing feels right at all. I look outside and everything just feels odd. One month ago I had no clue what social distancing was and now I feel like I say it everyday. Everyone had to adjust to a new normal in what seems like an instant. 

As the pandemic has progressed I feel I’ve viewed it as both a regular person and a journalist. I feel like any other person in the sense of being concerned about the situation and how to go about it. At the same time as a journalist I’m looking at the news more than ever to learn and understand any and everything I need to know about the pandemic. 

Photo by: Alexandar Aguilera
A once busy Chicago neighborhood sidewalk is empty.

I will say being a student during this pandemic has also been an adjustment. Being at home and still having assignments to do is different. Something I feel I’ve always done in school is finding a way to get things done one way or another. I think the many scenarios I’ve faced in college where I’ve had to think outside the box has sort of prepared me for this. Considering the circumstances I adjusted to getting my work done one way or another. I also feel the fact that I’ve gotten this far has also given me confidence that I can finish the semester and earn my degree.

Looking at this class and college in general I think it has prepared me to face adversity at any given moment. I gave myself a personal goal at the beginning of the semester to bounce back and finish off strong. I think TV2 and this semester as a whole I feel that I’ve bounced back and gathered myself to push through one last semester. I think for any college student out there they should take things one day at a time. College is not any easy thing and it takes a toll on you mentally. Whatever you do to relax, do it. Give yourself time to rest that way you can push yourself and get things done. Take the time to make sure you’re alright and you will be alright at the end of the day.