Student Media Adapts to a Virtual World

The pandemic may have forced them off campus, but journalism students and faculty are turning to alternative methods to produce exceptional journalism across multiple platforms.

By Lauren Brown

353 Broadcast Story Video - by Sofia

Advanced Broadcast Journalism Practicum

With students unable to meet in the Swanson Broadcast Studio on the second floor of Building 26, they are using their personal laptops to produce live TV news broadcasts from home.

The department’s broadcast specialist, Thomas Morales, spent the summer adapting the studio’s technology so that students can access its resources from their own computers.

Prior to COVID-19, students taking the Advanced Broadcast Journalism Practicum course learned how to produce 15-minute live shows using professional-grade broadcast equipment. Students were introduced to teleprompters, audio equipment, monitors, cameras and character generator machines for graphics. Morales’s modifications have allowed current students to input visuals and other production elements into live shows without physically accessing the studio equipment.

Students are expected to film, edit and produce an original story package each week and write scripts for their live shows. Once a week, they use a combination of Zoom and Zello (a “Walkie Talkie” application) to direct and communicate with one another to produce a socially-distanced live show.

You can watch the class’s latest 15-minute updates here.

Mustang News

Mustang News is once again available in print after the newspaper’s hiatus during the Spring 2020 quarter. The team is currently printing monthly, in contrast to their pre-COVID weekly printing schedule.

“Back in March, I was a little nervous about how things were going to work out long-term,” said Mustang Media Group general manager Jon Schlitt, “But after the first three months, seeing how both editorial and business staffs have responded, I feel very confident that we are going to come out of this year in really good shape.”

Volunteers from the Mustang News editorial and business teams bag more than 1,500 copies of the paper and hand-deliver them across campus and to nearby San Luis Obispo neighborhoods in an effort to distribute the paper to readers who are no longer coming to campus.

“If just a few hours on a Tuesday morning means that our community can see all the hard work that our team is putting in, that means the world to me,” journalism senior Lauryn Luescher said.

Prior to COVID-19, the Mustang News team heavily relied on ad revenue from local businesses, especially in the printed special sections, to keep the paper running. The reduced printing schedule has forced the business staff to look into other means of revenue, including a transition of the annual Poly Picks special section to a fully digital format.

You can see this year’s 2020 Poly Picks here.

Watch the students get the paper ready for distribution here.

Support Mustang News by donating.

Advanced Broadcast Journalism Practicum

The KCPR Mustang News team has also transformed their homes into mini broadcast studios. In the fall, the team has implemented the Zetta2GO application, purchased with donations from the spring pledge drive. The program allows the news team to produce and voice-track live shows from their home laptops. They have also added three hour-long evening shows to their typical Monday through Friday morning show schedule.

DJs are also back on air and have been pre-recording their musical programming remotely. The 11 DJs are each producing one to two shows per week.

Here’s a full explanation of how the KCPR team has adapted to COVID-19.

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