Completing the last semester of undergraduate online

My college life during the COVID-19 pandemic

Yuhan Ma

As an international student who is graduating in May, The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely brought changes to my school life. I have gained lots of experiences, either good or bad, that were totally new for me thanks to the pandemic. Therefore, in this self-reflection blog, I will discuss what I have achieved in my last semester studying at UIUC, specifically in my Jour 445 class, and how the coronavirus has changed my life at the university. 

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So hard to say goodbye!

By Bingchen Li

FAA is the best class I have ever taken! I really enjoy our in-class discussion and wonderful performances at Krannert Center. By taking this class, my understanding of art is deepened and this class opens my eyes that I experienced different cultures through those fantastic performances. Although we canceled 2 performances due to the COVID-19, the online performances provide a good experience to me and it is no exaggeration to say those performances are the lighthouse for me during the bored self-isolation at home.

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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.

The Container

A film the whole world can relate to.

Written by Jackie Dominguez

It’s crazy that I truly believe that most of the world right now can relate to the film The Container. To be afraid, aggravated, hungry, and uncertain. This time in our live will be marked as history, where many feel terrified just like the immigrants from The Container.

The world right now is being contained by practicing social distancing in our homes. We are being forced to be uncomfortable and to be surrounded by people we may not even want to be around with. This film is very strong into drawing you in on what the characters are feeling to truly understand what it is like to be afraid, lost, and uncertain.

Just like in the film and in our current lives, there isn’t much we have control on. However, the one thing we can is our mindsets and the relationships we choose to have with the people around us. The Containers, sends out the message that we have to work with the little that we have even if it means sacrificing things and taking the risk.

BoOm BoOM!!

The Japanese Martial Art of drumming and dance that even has you become part of the show! Written by Jackie Dominguez

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.

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Metamorphosis: Salesman Turned Insect

Metamorphosis is Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of Franz Kafka’s novella, which tells the tale of a travelling salesman who is transformed into an insect. The performance took place in the Parco Theater in Tokyo and was made available through Digital Theatre Plus.

Written By: Zackarya Faci

The first thing that struck me about Metamorphosis is that it was performed in Japanese. The video was accompanied by English subtitles which undoubtedly helped me understand what was going on through the performance. This is the beauty of digital performances; we are able to enjoy works that we might not otherwise comprehend in person. The performance opened with Gregor Samsa elucidating who he was and giving background about the other characters. This is atypical from other performances, and it seemed like he will be narrating the story instead of acting in it.

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The Rhythms of Virago-Man Dem

This production of Virago-Man Dem was an intriguing display of various movements and vibrant colors, blending light and dance for a single product.
-By Daniel Holley

Created by University of Illinois dance professor Cynthia Oliver, Virago-Man Dem is filled with simple movements and dance patterns. The four cast members dance fluidly around one another, and are often not in-sync. This style of dance is impressive to me because each member must keep track of their own specific movements and position on the stage floor. Although the choreography did not appear especially tricky, the cast was able to execute the simple movements in a way that kept the audience’s attention.

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Kafka: A Working Man’s Nightmare

By Jacob M Rominger

In Steven Berkoff’s adaptation of the Franz Kafka novel The Metamorphosis, present by East Productions, we are revealed a heart wrenching tales of the common worker’s alienation to labour.

The performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/east-productions/metamorphosis

This is my starting the performance on my computer. I really loved the costumes! Grey and dreary, just like the story.

The Container: Was I supposed to be made so unhappy?

By Jacob M Rominger

In Tom Wright’s production of The Container presented outside the Young Vic Theater presents an experience novel and uncapturable on the screen. By the end, the viewer is left with a futile outlook on human relations.

The performance: https://www-digitaltheatreplus-com.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/education/collections/digital-theatre/the-container

An image of my bookcase and my mug collection. They make great souvenirs! They are artistic and reusuable. Also easily packed, perfect for smuggling into foreign countries!