Students in J425: Video Journalism know a thing or two about working as a team. Throughout the fall semester, the class collaborates to create The Badger Report, a biweekly half hour streaming newscast. This year, students’ teamwork is being put to the test as the class has transitioned to remote instruction due to COVID-19. Without access to the Wisconsin Public Television studios typically used to produce the newscast, students are working together while staying apart.
Here’s a look at what goes in to making The Badger Report happen.
Tuesday: Story Pitches and Broadcast Planning
Each week, students meet via Zoom with Distinguished Faculty Associate Pat Hastings and Newscast Director Peter Kleppin of University Communications to pitch ideas for stories and plan how they intend to structure the broadcast. By brainstorming story concepts, they’re able to discuss creative storytelling strategies, troubleshoot potential issues and assign tasks to different team members.
The latest broadcast fell just days after the 2020 presidential election. With the election still a week away during the planning meeting, and the results still potentially unknown during the broadcast, students had a lot of open questions when it came to covering the story.
“With this particular newscast, there’s a lot of unknowns,” said Pat Hastings, Distinguished Faculty Associate, instructor for J425 and longtime journalist. “The trick to this is just having the plan in place, you may not have to use it.”
Beyond the election, students discussed stories on community organizations, including those focused on blood and plasma donation, children’s mental health, sheltering men experiencing homelessness and providing aid to Black women. Hastings advised students to look at their stories from multiple angles.
“Remember, who is affected by the story?” Hastings asked. “They are more interesting than the authority figure in the story.”
Students also discussed other beats, including weather and sports, which poses its own challenges during the pandemic. With many athletic events on hold, students brainstormed ways to cover sports, even if it meant traveling outside of Madison to get the story.
Wednesday through Wednesday: Story Creation
With the plan laid out, students went forth to begin creating their stories.
Friday: Broadcast Day
At 12:15 p.m., The Badger Report newscast streams on YouTube. All the hard work the students have done to pull the stories together, as well as the behind the scenes efforts for technical setup, graphics, web and social media promotion coalesce into the finished product.
After a successful newscast, The Badger Report team is back in action planning for their next show. You can tune in and see their hard work for yourself; the next newscast is Friday, November 20 at 12:15 p.m. Visit go.wisc.edu/BadgerReport or their website at badgerreport.journalism.wisc.edu to learn more.