Tag Archives: Broadcast Journalism

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.

Journalism 445 Final Self-Reflection Blog

Photo by Ken Erdey

Going into this semester, I knew I was going to have a large amount of work ahead of me and that it would be different compared to other semesters in the past. Having two jobs, taking 18 credit hours, being the Music Director of an A Cappella group on campus, participating in numerous extracurriculars and more resulted in me attempting to get a head start on anything I could for this course. Anytime I saw an opportunity to work ahead, I took it. For example, our first newscast.

Originally, I was scheduled to produce a News Update, which I was both nervous and excited to do, as I had never had an opportunity to do something like this before in a class. Because I knew I was going to have a lot of work to accomplish in the semester, I aimed to produce most of the content on my own. I had planned to complete a VO on the Krannert Hive Exhibit, and a VOSOTVO on a concert taking place at the University of Illinois Spurlock Museum. After filming both of these, I began editing as early as possible. However, my plans changed upon coming to class the following day.

We had been scheduled to have five packages, but by the Tuesday of that week, only four had been worked on. Seeing the stress our producers for the week were facing, I stepped up and volunteered to create a package, as I had captured enough B-Roll and three sources to complete this. I was stressed about completing this in addition to the work I had already signed up for, but I was determined to do whatever I could to help my fellow classmates.

Though it was not perfect, I was proud of the finished result of what I completed. In addition to my own News Update, I was able to assist my fellow classmates who had produced their own News Updates as floor director. This was my first time in this position, and was one I enjoyed for the Updates. It gave me an opportunity to encourage others and get them excited for their solo on-air moments. After the News Updates were completed, our newscast was next.

This was a slightly longer show than we were told about previously, which proved to be somewhat hectic the day of the show. Floor directing was slightly harder in this scene, as it was a faster-paced episode with more content than the News Updates. Near the end of the show, I was brought onto the set to discuss my package I had worked on.

However, due to technical difficulties, my package had not played as it did during my actual News Update. Though this was frustrating to watch and know that there was nothing I could do about it, I remained calm and discussed the concert to the best of my ability. The end result of our newscast was excellent due to the hard work of everyone who helped.

For our following newscast, I was allowed to take a week off since I had completed both a News Update and a package. This came at a great time, as I had several projects, an exam and an interview for graduate school that week. I was instead able to anchor our newscast alongside Yuhan Ma. The following week, I was able to create a package related to the upcoming U.S. Census for 2020. I had some difficulty with this, as I had to miss a class in order to film for it, but I was committed to getting the job done so I could continue to get ahead in this class. In the end, I was able to put together a package I was proud of and later aired on UI-7 News (1:30).

With two packages and one VO completed, I was determined to complete as many of my assignments as possible in order to get prepared for after spring break. I signed up to complete my second and final News Update, so that I could produce more content to ensure my work was aired. For this update, I had planned to film an event on scientific consulting for a VO and a VOSOTVO on a play at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Upon filming the play, I found that I once again had much more information that I could create into a package instead of squeezing into a VOSOTVO. I decided to create my final package, and was very excited to do so. The actors and producers even requested a copy of my final product for their own use, which I happily sent over to them.

Photo by Ken Erdey

In the midst of editing together work for my News Update, we received word that the University of Illinois would be suspending classes for two weeks after spring break due to the coronavirus. Wanting to report this, I began preparing a VO on the email. A few hours later, President Timothy Killeen announced that the university would indefinitely be holding classes online, so I updated my VO to further reflect this. While doing this, I realized how this would impact the rest of the year for my fellow classmates and myself. Everyone at Richmond Journalism Studio who was part of Good Morning Illini or Illini Sports Night expressed their upset regarding this. People would be missing out on producing shows they were passionate about. They wouldn’t be able to film segments for the programs they loved so much. I not only felt upset for myself, but for them, especially for the seniors.

Following this, we were told that we could not hold class the following day, so those of us who were producing News Updates decided to take matters into our own hands. Alex Agulera, Liam Dwyer, Dan Gerardi, Yuhan Ma, Danielle Williams, Becca Wood and I all stayed at Richmond studio and assisted one another with our News Updates until roughly 2 A.M. that night. We worked switcher, audio, playback, helped one another with mics and cameras and supported each other so we could complete professional and high-quality updates that we could also use for our future reels.

At that time, we still had the technology and resources available to complete works that could be used for a future career. Even though we were all tired and exhausted by the end of the night, this showed our determination to get the job done in order to do well in this course, and I am proud of the work I completed in order to do this. I am extremely grateful for every single one of my fellow classmates who helped out that night, and it reflected on their ability to get the job done, even during a crisis.

Once we learned that we would be working at home for the remainder of the semester, I was concerned how the work I had already accomplished would be reflected in regards to this. However, I tried to work diligently and broke up each section of my article into sections. That allowed me to get a fresh start every day.

In spite of the events that have occurred within the last month, I feel as though this class prepared me for creating the best broadcast productions possible. If I could give any advice, it would be to work ahead and get the job done as soon as possible. Most of my work was completed prior to spring break, which began on March 13. Capture more footage than you think you will need, get an interview if one is available and always help others.

This class has taught me that teamwork can truly get the job done. Make sure you save your footage when editing as much as possible so you don’t lose anything! Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. One thing I’ve learned as a journalism major is that so many other students are in the same boat as you, so someone may have had the same problem or question you have.

Another thing I would mention is to not be discouraged when things do not work out. Personally, I am a detail-oriented person who likes to know a strict plan and stick to it. However, I know this is not how the real world works, and this prepared me more for the future. Using critical thinking skills allowed me to develop more as a professional, and inspired me to think more on the spot about how to accomplish a task to the best of my ability with the resources I had been given.

Photo by Ken Erdey

Additionally, confidence is key. There were times in this class where I felt I did not perform to the best of my ability, but that only inspired me to try harder and to build my confidence. A lot of that confidence came from the support of my wonderful fellow classmates. Our class was one that supported, encouraged and helped one another. When we all put our heads together, we were able make creations that we were all proud of. That is one of the things I will remember most about this class.

As a journalist, there will often times be roadblocks that occur when you least expect them to. The best thing to do is be flexible and try your hardest to do your best work. This goes for anyone in any occupation, not just journalism. Being flexible and working through situations together with the help of others will only make you stronger. At the end of the day, I am grateful for the opportunities I had in this class, because it allowed me to work harder and develop my skills as a journalist and a professional. This was without a doubt the hardest semester I have faced at the University of Illinois, but this class taught me that with hard work, determination and a positive attitude, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

On top of everything that has occurred to me personally throughout this semester, I was able to complete nearly every assignment in this class before spring break. Additionally, I led my a cappella group in rehearsal for nine hours a week, and even led us in a competition. I worked two jobs in order to help my family. I applied, interviewed at and got accepted to a graduate school with one of the top programs in the country that I thought I stood no chance of getting into. Looking back on this semester, despite every obstacle I faced, I am proud of that.

A Study of Perseverance and Adaption

Photo by Susan Dwyer

by Liam Dwyer

As I reflect upon the long and tumultuous semester I spent in Journalism 445, I find myself coming back to two key attributes that aided in my success in the class, perseverance and adaptation. These two key traits were vital in the success of not only every assignment I worked on and every newscast I worked with, but also to my bludgeoning career as a journalist as well. I would be remiss, though, to say that there were never moments of celebration or relaxation, that jour445 was a constant battle for success, those moments did exist. But with the coming pandemic, and even before, I found that without constant vigilance on deadlines and assignment progress, things can quickly start to fall apart, as my first assignment taught me.

The first assignment  I worked on was my first package, a story about how issues with Illinois automatic voter registration were leading to people being both incorrectly denied and approved for voting. This assignment started with problems from the get-go, as my original story was about the recent legalization of marijuana with the idea of interviewing a local dispensary. After the interview fell through, I attempted another story that also failed on take-off, before ultimately settling just a few days before the deadline with this story. This meant interviews had to be quickly scheduled and editing was an all-night, day-before-deadline affair. Ultimately the story was a success in my eyes, but only after numerous set-backs where I was forced to adapt and persevere, a strong example for my case on their importance.

My second assignment, I served as an assistant producer under Rebecca Wood to create the Feb. 20th UI7 Newscast. Of the two assignments thus far, I certainly enjoyed this one more, and it perhaps hints at an inclination towards producer over straight reporting. This assignment too saw moments of crisis to be sure, scripts were in later than either me or Becca would have preferred which made creating a working rundown difficult. Also working around the scheduling of the smaller News Updates meant that sometimes the people we needed to talk or work with were busy at the moment, so we had to adapt and multitask. Overall though I found this to be enjoyable, the organizing of stories, helping reporters with questions, and such was engaging. It also served as a good experience for my next assignment when I was the lead producer for the newscast.

Assignment three was a double-edged sword of an assignment. It was by far the most stressful assignment, but also the one I felt most energized and happy about upon its conclusion. This assignment differs from the previous in that for this Newscast I was the lead producer and thus all the accountability and responsibility fell on my shoulders if(and when) things went wrong. Instead of following Becca’s lead now, I was the man in front leading the charge, and that was an aspect I enjoyed. The assignment taught me the importance of delegating work and trusting those you work with, while also showing me what work I myself needed to do that couldn’t be delegated out. I was able to apply the lessons I’d learned from the previous newscast and polish the show up until the last minute. It’s one of the reasons I think this newscast was the best of all three we were able to accomplish.

Some of the things I did still need to adapt to and learn from are my limitations as a producer in both knowledge and skills. I was constantly asking others to print something for me for example, as I didn’t know how to myself. My script-writing also left something to be desired, though by the end I think I was able to get the hang of it. These lessons are what I hope to truly take away from this class, the need to always strive to learn and improve no matter how much you think you have the hang of something. Indeed I thought this week would be my greatest challenge, how woefully unprepared I was for the coming months with such a mind-set.

My final wok before the start of this wild pandemic was two VoSots that I shoot and editing into my first(and last) News Update. The two VoSots were covering local events such as a photography club and a cat show, and both illustrated different lessons I learned from. The cat show illustrated my need to learn how to focus a camera, something after 4 years of college I still appear to have trouble with as my Sot is nowhere near in focus. Always check focus folks, always. The camera club, on the other hand, demonstrated the need for creativity in the field. Held in a single room and consisting mostly of people looking at projected images, filming varied and interesting B-Roll was no easy task. These are lessons you can learn on any VoSot however, and the true test of adaptation and endurance came with the filming of the News Update itself.

School wasn’t the only thing cancelled, even the State Farm center was immune to the shut-downs

TThe day the news updates were supposed to be filmed, the news came out that school would not be resuming classes and were offered the opportunity to film our News Updates on our phones. I and a number of dedicated other Jour445 students were in Richmond Studios finishing edits when the news came down, and as a group, we decided to band together and do it ourselves. Here I must reflect and thank my fellow students, Dan, Becca, Maddie, Alex, Yuhan, and some I’m sure that have slipped my mind. Without their teamwork, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, and it shows just how much of a collaborative process.

Once my favorite place to eat lunch between classes, now just another empty building.

After Winter Break I made the decision to return to cAfter Winter Break I made the decision to return to campus despite the move to online classes. What I returned to wasn’t the University of Illinois I knew, however. The Union was closed for the rest of my time here at the University, no chance for me to say goodbye.

The following weeks as both a journalist and a student have been increasingly difficult in this new world of isolation. Without the thriving campus scene, my walks around town to elevate stress seem again to a post-apocalypse movie, even the quad was empty on days of sunshine and warmth.

Grey skies in this photo, but the scene is much the same even in sunshine.

I found it imperative to find ways to keep my mind busy and active in these less than perfect times, and recently have taken up cooking to better myself between online classes and assignments. I’m no Gordon Ramsey yet, but with time comes skill, and everyone has a lot of that these days.

Twice-baked potatoes, something I didn’t even know existed, cooked deliciously by myself for the first time

One thing that I have learned in all this, especially as a journalist, is that times of trouble can offer some of the greatest opportunities to our profession. On my daily walks, I noticed an increase in construction, for instance. Ever the curious one I began taking photos, as you can see and found that construction was booming in this ghost town of mine.

It would appear without 50,000 students walking and driving around town. Without them using buildings daily, construction is suddenly able to drive heavy equipment through otherwise busy streets even during normal rush hours.

Suddenly the sound of jackhammers and the site of workers lounging around during lunch has become a common occurrence, something just waiting to be documented by the likes of journalists like myself.
Through it all, I think that the most disheartening image has to be of either Green Street barren of people or the University Health Center on Green testing for Corona. Both show just how completely Corona has taken hold of the world, removing any chance of normalcy for the time being

 This of course, brings us to the working of the Final Assignment. Tasked with interviewing 6 individuals for soundbites in a time where close contact is prohibited was no easy task, but here again, adaptability and perseverance rear their heads. Critical thinking was also key to this assignment and I overcame these initial challenges by simply seeking out and talking to people I could still meet in person, namely family, roommates, and girlfriend. Each of these individuals I knew was healthy and willing to talk, especially since I live with 5 out of the 6.

The most prominent challenge, in fact, turned out not to be interviewing my subjects but re-interviewing them. Upon the eve completing my assignment I was uploading my soundbites to my computer when my SD card became corrupted, wiping two interviews from existence. While it turned out all right in the end, it does provide a valuable lesson to always back-up your files. Luckily technology in the form of Zoom allowed me to call those I no longer had easy access to and rerecord their interviews from scratch.

Now we come to the conclusion of my self-reflection of the semester to end all semesters. It’s been one bumpy ride, but in all, I can’t help but look back fondly on it. Sure the stress of Corona was hard, but I’ve been blessed with my health and the health of friends and family during it. The last NewsUpdate was the most hectic I’ve ever felt, but the camaraderie that it created meant I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world, same with the rest of the semester. In all, Jour455 is tough, its hectic, and at times it might seem overwhelming, but if you stick with it and roll with the punches, you’ll come out a better journalist no matter what comes your way. As the old saying goes come rain, come snow, come sleet or hail, a journalist delivers the news… or something along those lines.

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.

Jose Montoya – JOUR 550 Final Reflection

This semester I decided to enroll in Journalism 550 taught by a visiting professor from Illinois. At the beginning I knew the basics of video production and had spent two years in the studio helping out at Media Crossroads in the library. I knew this was good experience, but didn’t implement it to pursue my career. To start, here’s a picture of me in early December with my favorite professor Dr. Bernie Kish.

Rock Chalk! 🔴🔵

A post shared by Jose Montoya (@talkinwithj) on

When I met Dr. Janice Collins she put a smile on my face. I was ready to start this class and work with many familiar faces. Before the class I knew Jasmine, Riley, Cassidy, Kathy, Patrick, Tyler and Jackson. Little did I know this group of friends would become very close and dear to my heart.

The first assignment our class completed was the Video Essay. I think this project was a fun way to get into the idea of “storytelling.” I decided to film a group of students playing frisbee. It was fun up until I lost my SD card. This meant that I had to use my other SD card with half of the footage that I had. Luckily the video wasn’t too long and I was able to turn in a pretty good video for my first one in the class.

This screenshot is from the video. It was a fun project to do and picking music to go along with the shots was pretty great as well. “Frisbee with Friends” and can be viewed below:

The next six videos our class completed were VO’s and VOSOTVO’s. I chose a few great topics for my videos and i am excited to reflect on them.

The first VO and VOSOTVO I did was very rushed. I had to work on a tight deadline since I was in Indianapolis from Thursday to Sunday and the project was assigned on Tuesday. I chose to talk about Greek Life KU and made a short video using B roll of a meeting from the Multicultural Greek Council.

The biggest lesson I learned from this project is that writing transcripts for each quote is difficult. My interview lasted about five minutes and Darius Jones (the person I interviewed) is very long winded. Therefore, I spent way too much time typing his answers for a short SOT I was going to use later. Either way, I learned more during the interview and had some footage of Darius to work with.

I don’t think I should have chose this as my topic, but I am glad I got it finished in time which helped me learn how to be proactive and prepared for the other video projects. The videos “Greek at KU VO” and “To be Greek at KU VOSOTVO” can be seen here:

The second VO AND VOSOTVO for this project was even easier than the first. I had plenty of time to work on it since we didn’t have class and it was the perfect story to tell. One thing I found out quickly is that 8am classes didn’t get canceled which meant students still had to go to class. I also had a lot of opportunities to get some great B roll.

The downfall of this assignment was the end result. First of all, many of my edits were too quick for the eye. While I was editing I thought they were fantastic and smooth, but after watching it again a few weeks later, I changed my mind. If I were to do this project again I would film the same amount of B-roll, but I would be more selective with my shots.

I thought this was perfect because I imagine that I was the only one shooting video in Lawrence about the school cancelations. #IGotTheBreakingNews

The videos I made, “Classes Canceled Tuesday VO” and “Students go to class before school cancellations VOSOTVO” can be seen below.

I think my interview was good and my NAT sound turned out awesome. On the grading rubric I was told I needed NAT sound so I thought that was weird since some great sound is there in the video. Even though I got a poor grade on this assignment, I think this is my favorite VOSOTVO of the year.

The next project let our class split of into two different topics. I chose basketball for my VO and Rise at St. Lawrence Center for my VOSOTVO.

My VO turned out great for having shaky shots because I filmed without a tri-pod. I am very impressed that I got to work alongside Tiffany on this project. We both told different sides of the story and it was cool comparing our different VO’s while watching them on YouTube.

My VO, “KU WBB Senior Night VO,” can be watched below. I am very pleased with my script and how much I paid attention to details while presenting this project.

My VOSOTVO was very challenging because the talk I went to was in the dark and therefore I had to work with a different lighting compared to my other video projects.

My interview choice was excellent because he spoke that night and gave me a better idea of why this event was so important to St. Lawrence Center and KU. It was also a success because there were a lot of people there as well. I like how the video turned out, but if I could improve one thing, I would make my NAT sound go into the beginning of the video. This would have changed the mood almost instantly.

My VOSOTVO, “RISE VOSOTVO,” is below:

Then came spring break…..

I don’t know why I added more projects, but I had four major projects over the next month for different classes and team videos. It was difficult to handle, but it was helpful that I picked a package idea far in advance of the due date.

I decided to film Quidditch for my first Package. My AWESOME partner (Cassidy) and I killed it with an awesome script and some excellent B-roll of the Kansas Quidditch team playing in their annual Kansas Cup. We spent a lot of time filming various matches which helped while we were picking what shots to include in our package.

Another good thing that we did was interviewing. We shot six different interviews and they turned out fairly great. We decided to chose the best quotes even though some of the audio got caught by some wind while we were filming.

Shooting a stand-up was pretty different. I enjoyed doing one, but something didn’t turn out how we wanted…. Our audio didn’t work! I was so upset and fund out a few hours after filming. I decided to try to re-film on campus, but it didn’t have as cool of an effect. We decided to VO our stand-up and layered it over our voices. Obviously it didn’t work out too great, but I think it’s a funny story to learn the lesson about audio and filming stand-ups.

Either way, I am glad that my partner this semester was Cassidy. We have known each other for a little bit and have had some fun memories added to our list because of this class.

The video, “KU Club Quidditch,” is featured below:

After doing this video project and getting a good score, I was excited to start on a new package. I decided to film a Pooch Eggstravaganza over Easter weekend at South Park in Lawrence.

The dogs were soooo cute! I am so happy with the footage and the interviews I had, but my audio didn’t go well because the event played music the whole time. It was upsetting because my shots had different songs in them and could potentially distract the viewer while they are watching it.

Maybe I should have chosen a different idea, but I think it worked pretty great. I decided to shoot a stand-up and the same thing with the audio caused me to re-think adding it. After some thought, I decided against it and cut the TRT of my video by 9 seconds. Overall, this was an effective decision for my news break.

If I had to do this project again, I would have prepared myself by bringing headphones and talking to more people about their experience at the egg hunt. I had a lot of dog footage, but I didn’t interact with as many people as I hoped I would.

The package, “Dog Egg Hunt,” can brighten anyone’s day. Especially with the video of the dog barking at the end.

Holy cow! That was a lot of reflection and we still haven’t got to the news break.

What a perfect transition to talk about our famous in front of the camera part of the class. I really enjoyed doing the news break. Even though preparing for it seemed to take forever, I am glad it is over. My first run went “okay” at best. My classmates say I did well, but I didn’t think so.

My frustrations were with the timing of the show. I thought that I had everything timed out, but some things didn’t work out during my practice. I got upset and didn’t get to finish how I wanted to. Apparently I have a lot of energy so I guess that’s a pretty okay trait to have.

Attached below is my second news break which ended up being awesome!

The second news break went so much better! I wasn’t scheduled to go first, but I decided at the last minute to switch spots with Cain. He was an awesome classmate and let me go. I had a smooth run and was very pleased with the end result. Could have I done better? Sure, but at least I did something to improve my broadcast presence.

I think the part of the news break that was my favorite was the weather. I enjoyed tying sports to something that is vital to a newscast. Some people (Dr. Collins and every broadcast professional) would agree that weather is the biggest reason why people watch the news. I would agree.

Honestly this class was pretty fun and I am glad I did so much with so many great people. Meeting new people from different countries and states was an incredible experience.

The last part of this project was working on the Monday edition of KUJH. I think this was fun for the most part because I got to do it with some of my friends. Aksinya, Jackson and Kathy stayed for the show with me and Cain, Caroline and Olivia did things before the show with me. Even though I did an extra hour of work each week, I think it helped me prepare for the newscast and gave me a better idea of collegiate broadcast journalism.

I will forever remember this semester and the great connections and friends I made along the way. Thank you for everything you have done for me as a journalist and a future storyteller!

Smiling…… Jose Montoya

Aksinya: Sunshine Joy and Career Fair

Introduction

This class is awesome!

It’s been five weeks already, since I am in this class. First week turned out to be quite stressful. I did not know what to expect, and I did not know how successful this class can be for me. Dr. Collins is very energized and inspiring professor, so I realized she would help us succeed. When I saw the syllabus, I got nervous because of the amount of work that needs to be done this semester. But, it’s probably better because this prepares us for the future. Therefore, our first two assignments were Video Essay and VOSOTVO.

Video Essay Project

The Video Essay assignment was very interesting to film, edit and present. However, I experienced some challenges. First, the tripod I used turned out to be broken, specifically its legs. So, it was hard for me to stabilize it every time. Despite this challenge, I believe my footage turned out nice and bright. But, before filming children playing on the playground, I had a different plan. I filmed dogs playing at the dog park; however, my forage turned out to be blue and lacked sound. Obviously, I felt upset, but I realized I had to move on and avoid making the same mistakes. Therefore, the next day I went to South Park to film children having fun; but before, I triple-checked the sound, white balance, and gain. After an hour of filming, I returned home and watched my footage; I could not be happier with the result. The next step was editing. When I put pieces together, I always thought, “What will be my focus?” So, I constantly changed footage and its order; eventually, I was able to finalize my first video project. After I was done editing, I began writing my script. For some reason, I felt good about what and how I was writing. But also, thanks to Dr. Collins, we had a script example. I tried to follow 3C’s, and I believe I accomplished it. I did not find it challenging to write conversationally; probably it’s because I am not a native speaker, and I always use simple words when I write and talk. My last stage was to present my Video Essay. When I go upfront, I always feel nervous and my heart is pounding fast. Though, as soon as I begin speaking, my nervousness disappears. I felt energized and happy to present my Video Essay, because I love doing stories about kids. Based on the Dr. Collins’s critique, she motivated me to do even better. Therefore, I was ready for the next project.

VOSOTVO and VO Project

My next video project was VOSOTVO and VO. Unfortunately, it was not as successful and smooth as the Video Essay. First of all, my plan A, which I was the most excited about, failed. I was ready to go and film, but the event got postponed; and I lost my opportunity to do a good story. Then, I decided to do a story about the flu season; however, the physicians, I wanted to talk to, were busy on that day; plus, I would be the third or fourth student to do a story about the flu season. Once again, my plan B failed. Then, while I was at work, my co-worker told me that there was the University Career Fair at the Union. At that moment, I felt he was my life-saver. I ran to the Dole to get equipments, and I found out that all the JVC cameras were gone. I felt upset, but did not let my mood to take over. The only choice I had was to reserve a tiny Canon camera that does not white balance, have a clear focus and sound. To make my story nice, I decided to change my mood and think positively. I was at the fair for two hours, and I had over 150 b-rolls. When I returned to my office, I checked my footage; honestly, I did not know what to expect. However, I was happy that the footage turned out ‘okay.’ I wrote the script, and I felt confident about my writing. However, I was not confident about timing. Though, I practiced as much as I could to perfect it. Then, when it was time to present upfront, I felt nervous once again. My goal this semester is to learn how to calm this feeling down because it distracts me from showing my emotions and personality. Also, even though I tried to sound conversational and natural, I think I failed. As my VOSOTVO was showing, at the end of the video I did not have any patting; so, it went black. Therefore, this is something I need to improve for the next VOSOTVO project. As Dr. Collins told us, “Say it, see it,” I think I did a good job on that, except of the SOT. For some reason, I included an extra b-roll, which did not make sense, over the interviewee. Overall, all this is one step forward to be better and perfect myself and my work. Next time, I will improve my video by adding patting at the end, practice timing myself, work on being conversational and showing my personality, avoid unnecessary b-rolls in the video, and stay more optimistic.

https://youtu.be/xoH9hDpO8e0

https://youtu.be/FsqcI51-vmQ

I enjoy this class because of its energy and Dr. Collins’s positivity, and motivation. I am looking forward to learning and practicing more in this class.

– Aksinya Kichigina

Assignment 1 Ramirez

The entrance to Hallene Gateway in Urbana, Illinois

What’s up! My name is Demisha Ramirez. I introduce myself as Demi like Demi Lovato; it just helps people remember it. I have been studying Broadcast Journalism for the past 2 semesters and I absolutely love it. I really haven’t used a camera ever before (except selfies, but that doesn’t count).  Whenever someone would ask them to take a picture I would just say no because I thought I was a horrible photographer. So actually having a camera and having to go out and take pictures and video is completely out of my comfort zone!

Assignment one was easier than what I hyped it up to be. I just wanted my shots to be clear and straight, because I do not have a steady hand. I went out and started walking around campus on one of the most beautiful days. The sun was out and I felt like an actual photographer.

I took photos of everything on campus. I even brought along one of best friends,  Quan Trimble, and started taking pictures of him until he got annoyed with me and I had to stop. I started taking pictures at the Ike, but wasn’t getting any shots so then went to the Quad. I figured there is always something happening on the quad so I would have plenty of inspiration. I got some pretty nice shots of the quad (see one below).

Davenport Hall on the Main Quad of The University of Illinois- Urbana, Illinois

I felt like I could do better, so I decided to go inside the Illini Union. Lucky for me, there was an event called  “Festival of Maidens, Daughter of the Dragon.” Think ‘Game of Thrones,’ but without the blood and death. There were no real swords, so they fought with a stick wrapped in a silver, shiny material that mirrored a sword. I got some great shots of all the matches and also some medieval merchandise the sponsored organization was selling.

A participant of The Festival of Maidens

 

Next, I just decided to practice my shooting inside my room with some items I had laying around. I live in Bousfield and the rooms are pretty big for being a dorm room, but still. I had a limited space to shoot in. I shot some stuffed animals I had so I can practice my close-ups. I also practiced on some old flowers I saved and I was extremely happy with how they came out. I was excited for class so I can do the next step.

A pink dead rose I’ve had since February 2016

Next step was editing and putting my pictures into a video. I have never used Adobe anything in my life, but I have used I-Movie to edit 2 videos. I figured it couldn’t be that complicated. Man, was I wrong! I don’t mean complicated in a bad way, but it was a little overwhelming seeing and trying to use all the effects and buttons correctly. I got the hang of the program after a few minutes of playing around with it. I also kept asking my  classmate sitting next to me for help. It was also hard to decide the order of the pictures in the video and deciding what pictures to actually use. I am happy with my final project, but I am more excited for more projects to come. Then I will actually have some experience and hopefully they will be better.

Check out the video of the fun I had all over campus here!

 

Assignment 1 Schmitt

Assignment One is officially in the books, and I cannot wait to see where this Multimedia journey takes me! I really enjoyed this project because I was given the creative freedom to take pictures and videos of whatever I wanted. For me, I was able to shoot all of my images in my apartment building, which has 24 floors. I felt as an artist that there were enough objects and scenes to explore right at my doorstep. In my high school television class, I was able to use a camera very similar to the one I was given in this class. With that being said, this project gave me the opportunity to brush up on my past skills, and learn new ones, as well. I am by no means an expert photographer or videographer, but I love learning and cannot wait to continue to develop and improve. Continue reading