EAST LANSING, Mich. — For National News Literacy Week we caught up with the broadcast journalism students at Michigan State University to show you how they’ve been producing their student led newscast, ‘Focal Point’ remotely.
The students would normally be inside the Communication Arts and Science building working on producing 12 newscasts for the year, but with the pandemic these students had to learn how to put on a show outside the studio while continuing to tell accurate and impactful stories.
“We had the director at home, the audio was at home, the person running the video was at home, the anchors were out in the field out on out on the street, we had live shots, and we had we had intercom communication with a remote app for your phone. All those things were all remote. And it was the first time we'd ever done anything like that,” says Bob Gould, MSU Broadcast Journalism Instructor.
Faculty at MSU quickly found a solution to how they would social distance their students while pulling off their Focal Point newscast in the building as well.
“In a normal Focal Point newscast with the students, there might be eight to ten people in the control room, we had to get rid of that and we had to move those out. We set up some producer areas in other rooms nearby. So it'd be one student per room and it got the control room personnel down to two people. We moved the teleprompter function out into the studio where it's a much larger room,” says Brian Kusch, Broadcast Engineer at MSU.
This led to more students in the field which gave them the opportunity to go live and conduct interviews in new ways.
“We would have live shots set up all across East Lansing, sometimes we would have them in different cities, depending on how big the story is,” says MSU senior and Focal Point producer, Julian Stainback.
Overall, a quick learning experience that will stick with these students in their careers for years to come.
“We've really learned to try and cope with everything we've taken in stride. We never missed a new show this past semester, despite the covid numbers continuing to climb, we just made sure that we were safe, sanitary and continued to tell the stories that have impact,” says Joe Freihofer, MSU senior and Focal Point reporter.