Students Produce Newswatch at Home Episodes

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Three-part series posted on social media 

ATHENS, OH – When Ohio University made the decision to stop holding in-person classes and move to remote learning, the student volunteers who work as journalists in the WOUB newsroom wanted to find a way to keep serving WOUB listeners and viewers from afar. As the students watched national journalists report stories from home, an idea was born.

“Students wanted to do something. We started texting each other,” said Sophomore Zanovia Criss. “We wanted to show that we are still reporting even though we are not physically in the newsroom.”

“One of the student producers sent me a text,” said Junior Nicholas Snider, a meteorology major. “They had come up with the idea to do Newswatch from home, and I got on board.”

“We decided to produce a three-part Newswatch at Home series that we would post on social media,” said Sophomore Julia Howell.

Newswatch is a professionally managed and student-produced television news program that airs every weekday at 6:30 p.m. on WOUB-TV covering news from the Ohio University campus as well as the surrounding counties and states. Approximately 50 students from a variety of Ohio University Scripps College of Communication schools work on the program each semester. Production of the program has been suspended while students are not on campus.

“The region that WOUB covers is in between designated market areas,” said Snider. “It doesn’t get a lot of attention from TV stations in Charleston, West Virginia and Columbus, Ohio, and providing local information to the people of this region any way we can is important.”

The first two parts of the series were posted over the last week, with the final part to be posted today. They can be found in the videos posted on WOUB’s Facebook Page.

“We are filling a need,” said Criss of Columbus, Ohio. “Everyone can get national news, but we need to help provide more coverage of WOUB’s region. Students felt like we should help cover the area.”

However, the technical side of producing Newswatch from home was complicated and took a lot of communication and coordination.

“Personally, it has helped me grow in my communication technique,” said Criss. “Since we are not together, we were calling and video chatting to make sure everyone was on the same page. We didn’t have the same technology that we would have had if we were at WOUB in the newsroom.”

“This is brand new for all of us,” said Howell who lives in Topeka, Kansas. “This is not what we thought we’d be doing.”

It also took ingenuity and using the resources that were available to students.

“I’ve always wanted to be a broadcast meteorologist since I was a little kid,” said Snider who lives in Lakewood, Ohio. “When I was 11 or 12, I would make weathercasts with my dad’s computer. So, my parents got me a green screen for my 13th birthday to practice. Since I was at school with a professional green screen, I had not used it much lately until now.”

All the students agreed that putting together the newscast from home has helped them learn and grow as journalists.

“I think this is a great time to be a journalist and a student journalist,” said Howell. “It’s helping us learn how to transition quickly and work through something that no one could have predicted.”

“As a broadcaster, it’s helping me take my own initiative and figure out ways to do things I haven’t done before,” said Snider.

“I am proud of what we have put out,” said Howell. “Anyone can get national Coronavirus news anywhere. Most of the stories we did had local information you couldn’t get anywhere else. We are dedicated to WOUB and the people WOUB serves.”