Stories on the Fly
Washington State Magazine: Fall 2020
By Alysen Boston ’17
Fall 2020 | original piece (posted verbatim)
Cougs step up.
Numerous courageous people on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic—nurses, doctors, first responders, and essential workers—sacrificed and helped us all. Many WSU alumni, faculty, and staff sought ways to support them, and to reach out to those in need…
Not many instructors can say they had to navigate a pandemic during their first year of teaching.
MATT LOVELESS (’07 Comm.), a former broadcast journalist, transitioned to teaching newscasting courses at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication in August 2019. His students are part of a team that produces Murrow News 8, a daily live newscast.
Courtesy Edward R. Murrow College of Communication
“I’ve been a teacher for nine months,” Loveless says. “To have to learn a new profession and then six months later completely relearn how to do that profession is daunting, but we had such a good team.”
To produce the newscast, students typically spend 22 hours a week in the classroom, with lights, sets, and cameras to synchronize. When the class had to go online, students could no longer access those resources—but they could take pointers from other newscasters and videographers.
“Newscasters on TV were filming from their dens and offices,” Loveless says. “We looked into the technology that gamers or YouTubers use for their shows.”
Students combined live Zoom calls, pre-recorded segments, infographics, and other elements using Open Broadcaster Software to produce their daily newscasts for the last six weeks of the course. Despite initial hiccups and issues with internet connectivity, Loveless says they never missed a show.
“My students were in seven different area codes and three different states, but the distance itself was never the issue, it was what the technology allowed,” Loveless says. “It was tough, but they never let it seem that way. It was so valuable to learn that we can keep telling stories on the fly and we absolutely will be building that into our curriculum going forward.”
ZOOMING TO THE RESCUE
Fine Arts instructor DAVID JANSSEN JR. teaches core principles of art and design with guest lectures on Zoom and projects using students’ own materials.
CHRIS COONEY in the Carson College of Business uses dad jokes to lighten up classes on Zoom, while his wife REBECCA COONEY in the Murrow College created assignments for COVID-19 conscious messaging in students’ marketing campaigns.