Some of you may know already, but currently I’m one of the executive producers for SBU-TV. This little college station has been a major part of my academic life here at St. Bonaventure. Being a student journalist is a unique experience and not many people see what goes into making a great newscast. For anyone curious about what my job is like, here’s a snapshot into an average week at SBU-TV.
Before I completely dive into a week in the life, time to understand how our broadcast works. We usually do two newscasts a week; one on Wednesday and one on Friday. Our Wednesday show is a five minute update on national and sometimes international stories. Sometimes we include local stories, too. The Friday show is the big one. This one goes for half an hour and covers stories happening in our little bubble and other national headlines. We even have commercials – how fancy!
So here we go, a week in my newsie life!
I help lead the editorial pitch meeting on Mondays. All reporters get together in a little classroom with our professor. A reporter tells me what his story is, who he’s talking to, and if he needs any help getting it done. I ask any questions to get some clarity and then we move on to the next reporter. It’s a cool process to hear the different ways people are getting involved in the community. The pitches range from on-campus events to issues in town.
We check in with reporters on Wednesday. We like to get updates on developing stories so we can better plan the newscast for the week. During our Midweek Updates, we have one person anchor. These shows feel more informal because of how short they are, so there isn’t as much pressure on all the people working it.
During all of this, I’m usually working on a story for the show. I’ve done a range of stories, from a deep dive into Irish culture, to some science stuff I had to force myself to understand, to covering a home explosion. It’s cool to speak to different members of the community and learn more about the area I’ve called home for the past four years.
Thursday is (usually) editing day. Stories are due Thursday night, so its a lot of logging video, editing scripts, and recording voice tracks. Spell checks happen often and we rarely take breaks. Reporters usually chat with each other about how their interviews went, what their script is like and other small talk.
Friday is GAME DAY. We go live at 10 a.m. and it takes a lot of people to get this show running well. We have a full crew in our control room making sure our two anchors look and sound great. I produce and direct almost all of the shows, so I usually review some of the scripts and call a lot of the shots. It helps having other people to prep the show because it almost ensures a smooth broadcast.
Now, technology is not always on our side. There have been many cases where systems have failed us. I have to react quickly, whether I’m in front of or behind the camera. Anchors have to be ready to be on camera at any moment and speak to our loyal viewers. I have to know when to cut to commercial or when to tell the anchor to talk a little longer on air. It can get very stressful, but it’s can be so rewarding.
There have been little moments during my time at SBU-TV that have made me extremely proud of our little broadcast. There was a concerned parent who thanked us for sharing news on campus their own child didn’t mention to them. They were happy to be caught up and learn their kid was still safe so far from home. There are other times when students around campus share our stories online and get excited to see their friends on “TV.” There’s been times where we’ve had the exclusive scoop, and we’ve broke stories before some national networks do.
It can be a very stressful job, but at the end of the day it’s so rewarding. It’s the people I meet during stories and after the show airs that make it so cool. While it seems like journalism gets a lot of criticism online nowadays, there are some people out there that still appreciate our newscasts.
That was a little peek at what I do every week here at St. Bonaventure. If you’re interested in some of my stories, feel free to check out my social media and give me a follow. You’ll get all my stories and some behind the scenes action. Click the links to check it out!
(Plus, here’s a little slice of my junior year – my promo shot for SBU-TV 2018)