Tag Archives: Journalism

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How a COM grad student made the 2014 midterm elections her professional project

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

One of the greatest components to Boston University College of Communication’s Journalism graduate program is the professional project. When I say “greatest,” I don’t mean easy, fun or relaxing.  As with anything great comes hard work, and that is exactly what the professional project showcases. After three semesters worth of classes, sleepless nights, and every ounce of blood, sweat and tears you have finally reached the end. You are now a mere shadow of what you were when you first entered grad school, and your professional project is your opportunity to show everyone else that transformation.

What is a professional project? I will explain. All candidates for the MS in Journalism must submit a professional project in their final semester. Each student arranges for a faculty member to be their adviser for the project. Upon completion, students are expected to endeavor to sell or place their work with a professional news organization.

Third semester Broadcast Journalism student Ashley Davis set out to accomplish one of the most daunting tasks and most impressive professional project to date— The Midterms 2014, a live coverage production of this year’s midterm elections. I shall elaborate.

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Anchor Louise Liu gets ready for The Midterms 2014.

Monday, November 5 at 6 p.m., the night before Election Day, a dress rehearsal took place. About 60 BU students (both grad and undergrad) were involved, including an impressive number of BU COM faculty and staff. Everyone had a job to do. Some were helping in the studios, a handful of students (selected by Ashley after auditioning) were anchors at the National Desk and others were scattered throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and even D.C. to act as call-in reporters for the live production.

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Professor Cavalieri helps students with technical operations in the production studio.

Ashley went over every aspect of the entire coverage the night before and explained exactly what needed to be done. After she sent the troops on their way, she remained at COM to get ready for Tuesday, November 4. This was her professional project, and since everything was going live, there wasn’t any room for mistakes, as per usual.

Tuesday, November 4 came quickly. Some people were asked to report to the studios several hours before going live at 9 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the anchors prepared their cut-ins—pre-made news packages (stories). These packages would air in-between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., mixed in with some live shots, on-cam anchoring and reporters calling in from different headquarters around Massachusetts.

I spent my time on COM’s third floor in Room 321, where I worked with others to help Professor Susan Walker push out live content and numbers for the anchors to live report as votes came pouring in from states across the nation.

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Ashley Davis directs on the set of The Midterms 2014.

Here is a breakdown of The Midterms 2014‘s amazing team and their various roles:

On campus at COM, in Studio East/West:

  1. First Block: Anchors Supriya Muppala and Peter Zampa
  2. Second Block: Anchors Taylor Walker and Justin Shrair
  3. Third Block: Anchors Mikaela Lefrak and Jamie Bologna

During this block, Kate Kahn — BU professor and former Senior News Producer for WHDH-TV (NBC-Boston)— served as the live shot producer, coordinating all the live reporters.  Andre Khatchaturian and Louise Liu— both Broadcast Journalism students at COM— were anchors at the National Desk. Lauren Westberg— Broadcast Journalism grad student— was a live reporter and interviewed Professor Groshek, Professor Carroll and Tom Fiedler—the Dean of COM.

Candidate Headquarters: Students were placed at all of the following locations in order to quickly report polling results back to BU’s College of Communication.

  1. Steve Sisto— MA 6th Congressional District, Seth Moulton Headquarters
  2. Paul Dudley—MA Governor Charlie Baker Headquarters
  3. Ashley Paul— MA Governor Martha Coakley  Headquarters
  4. Christina Erne—The Casino
  5. Hayley Crombleholme—MA Senate Edward Markey Headquarters
  6. Noelia Valero—Washington D.C.
  7. Rachel Mccubbin—NH Senate Scott Brown Headquarters
  8. Nikita Sampath and Rebecca Sananes—NH Senate Jeanne Shaheen Headquarters
  9. Keri McAlpine and Kathlene Gibbs—MA 6th Congressional District, Richard Tisei Headquarters

COM Professors Involved: The following faculty and staff members stayed hours and hours after they should have gone home. Instead, they helped make sure this live-production was nothing less than exceptional. Just one more example of COM’s professors doing all they can to make their students succeed.

  1. R.D. Sahl- Broadcast Journalism Professor
  2. Susan Walker- Broadcast Journalism Professor
  3. Christophor Cavalieri- Film & Television Professor
  4. Jacob Groshek- Emerging Media Studies Professor
  5. John Carroll- Mass Communication Professor
  6. Kate Kahn- COM Professor

The large production team watches live coverage at the National Desk.

The large production team watches live coverage at the National Desk.

Technical Operations Team: Quite possibly the most important part of this production, these students and staff members worked hard to make sure everything in the studio was functioning and the coverage aired without flaw.

  1. Jake Kassen- Technical Operations Manager
  2. Tristen Olly- Media Technician
  3. Scott Lovejoy- Digital Post Production Specialist
  4. Shawn Fallon- Media Technician

Additionally, BU Professor Michelle Johnson coordinated a simulcast on the Boston University News Service‘s website. Professor Anne Donohue coordinated live news updates on WTBU, Boston University’s student-run radio station. Coverage from DC was made possible with the help of journalism faculty member, Elliot Francis, who coordinated student packages from BU’s Study Abroad Washington Program.

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Anchors get ready at the National Desk.

The Midterms 2014 was an immense success. Ashley Davis could not have done a better job handling such a high-stress situation, nor could she have selected a better team. Ashley never lost her composure, always made time to answer questions and kept very calm throughout the entire evening. She had so much responsibility lying squarely on her shoulders, but yielded excellent results.

Watching Ashley’s professional project come to life makes us first semester grad students realize that this time next year, a similar task is awaiting us. Although it was a little intimidating, I now feel inspired to find a professional project in which I can showcase all I have learned throughout grad school. No other institution would provide the resources, the studios and opportunities to create something so impressive and professional. Now, not only does Ashley have a remarkable production to add to her resume, but she also made history happen, right there on the third floor of COM.

Ashley Davis’ final professional project is currently being edited. Check back here to view the final publication and follow her on Twitter @ashley_m_davis to see what else she is up to. 

On Wednesday, December 10 from 5-7 p.m. in Room 209, the College of Communication’s Department of Journalism is hosting the Journalism Graduate Showcase. The event will feature journalism graduate students presenting excerpts of their professional projects. Seniors, graduate students and faculty members are all invited. Adult beverages will be served, so please bring your ID. 

Interested in one of BU College of Communication’s graduate programs? Tell us which one and why in the comments section below. You can find out more information on our website, so be sure to check it out here

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“Get buzzed”: A look inside Boston University’s Lifestyle Magazine

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

This past week, I got out of the grad school bubble and spoke with some very knowledgeable undergrads about their experience working for the The Buzz, Boston University’s lifestyle magazine. The hard-copy magazine is published every fall and spring semester, but their online magazine publishes a variety of content on a weekly basis. The magazine’s sections include a little something for everyone – campus, city, arts, fashion, music, food, sports and travel. The site also features “The Weekly Buzz”, a video component showcasing a range of different lifestyle topics, from BU artists to features on the Assembly Row shops in Somerville.

With a mix of graduate and undergraduate students, The Buzz’s staff is large, ranging from writers to photographers to copy-editing and advertising. Alison Ortiz, a freshman in the process of transitioning over to COM’s Broadcast Journalism program, holds three different positions with the magazine. She is responsible for The Buzz‘s Instagram account, publishing for events and broadcast. Alison says she heard about The Buzz through a campus SPLASH event, where students are exposed to everything from BU’s  cultural clubs to dance groups, from academic associations to religious life.

Katie Tamola, a Journalism graduate student, writes for The Buzz‘s campus section.  “My experience has been nothing but positive and my editor has been amazing,” says Katie. “As somebody who didn’t go here for undergrad it’s ironic I covered campus. The Buzz has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it’s daunting to go up to someone and ask them about their noncommittal sex habits, for example. It’s been so much fun and they’ve given me such great opportunities. I’m so grateful. It helped me be a better writer and gave me the confidence to write for other publications as well.” Katie also commends The Buzz for being hospitable to new ideas, saying, “If you work for campus but want to do something else, they are open to that.”

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“I’ve made filming and editing my life and got really involved,” says Alison. The magazine can be flexible to your commitment level, however, and doesn’t require you to take on more roles than you can handle. “It’s very relaxed,” she says. “You don’t have to do a million different things, you make it as much as you want it to be. They don’t restrict you or hold you back either.”

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Sarah Wu, a sophomore majoring in Journalism at BU, writes for three sections of The Buzz – campus, fashion and food. She also heard about the magazine at a SPLASH event and began attending meetings, initially starting with food and then taking on other sections. Sarah says for her, the process has been a lot of deadline juggling depending on which section is going to be published online, or what piece she is working on for the print magazine.

“It depends where we are in the cycle,” she says. “There have been times when I’m writing one article for each section. For campus, I write one monthly, for events, if something comes up like fashion, they ask can you go cover this, and for food it’s generally dining hall stuff or campus food trucks.” When asked about what she’s learned from working with The Buzz, Sarah cites time management and the opportunity to improve her writing skills. “You’ve got to learn to be on your toes,” she says. “Since I’m writing for three sections I always have deadlines and you learn to manage your time.” “The more you write the better you get,” she adds. “Being able to receive feedback from the editor is very constructive.”

387117_10151201878281163_320955595_nGianna Fischer, a sophomore PR student, manages all of The Buzz’s social media. While she writes for other organizations on campus, she wanted to focus on the business side of things as well, saying publishing is an industry often misunderstood in terms of its business orientation. “So far it’s been a really good experience and a lot more organized than other organizations I’ve worked with in the past.” Social media falls outside of The Buzz’s three main publishing components, to include publisher, events and PR/advertising. Events primarily work on the fall and spring release parties, advertising and PR build the brands and funds for print, while social media cultivates the magazine’s online presence.

The Buzz’s publishing group is really structured and keeps people directed,” says Gianna. “It’s great to be a part of something with clear cut goals and to see strong leadership.” On working the social media side of things, she comments, “It’s a real world application that I wouldn’t have at the professional level otherwise. We’re talking to actual clients. COM is great because they have AdLab and PRLab, but being able to do that before you get into those classes is nice,” she says.

386337_10151201878446163_1187353376_nI asked all three undergrads what they thought of grad student involvement at The Buzz, and they all enthusiastically supported it. “The Buzz is the type of organization that likes to push limits and be the best. Grad students would put us a step above,” says Gianna. “At the start of the semester we have an all staff meeting the first month. They tell you what The Buzz is about, give you contact information and you talk to editors. If you want to join now you can talk to a particular section. They’re very open to having new writers,” says Sarah.

On Nov. 18, The Buzz Fall 2014 print issue will launch, and copies will be available at the George Sherman Union on campus. There is also a launch party called “Refined 2014″ on Nov. 20 in the Burke Club Room at the Agganis Arena. The party is intended to promote the issue while also showcasing student talent that may have been featured in either the print or online edition. Refreshments, raffles, music and more will be provided.

Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University
Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University

If you are interested in joining The Buzz, you can email Ashli and Meredith (Editors-in-Chief) at the.bu.buzz@gmail.com, or contact a specific section (emails below). Have you written for The Buzz? Tell us what your experience was like.

Editorial:

Campus: campus.bu.buzz@gmail.com
City: city.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Arts & Entertainment: culture.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Music: music.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Fashion: fashion.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Food: food.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Travel: travel.bu.buzz@gmail.com
Sports: sports.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Publishing: publish.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Photography Director:  photo.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Arts: Illustrators and Graphic Designers:  art.bu.buzz@gmail.com

Broadcast: broadcast.bu.buzz@gmail.com

If you want to learn more about what graduate programs here at Boston University’s College of Communication have to offer,  please ask any questions below and visit our website.

 

 

 

 

Behind the scenes: Good Morning, BU

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

On Thursday morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn when I knew my 11 a.m. lecture wasn’t for another five hours. But, I had a special assignment for that Thursday morning. I had to rush to get to campus by 8:30 a.m. What on earth would compel me to sacrifice such precious hours of sleep?

Good Morning, BU. Enough said.

Good Morning, BU (GMBU) is Boston University’s own LIVE, weekly morning show. GMBU brings you the latest in news from around BU, Boston, and from around the world.

On that early Thursday morning, I joined GMBU’s student-led team to find out exactly what goes into this weekly butv10 production. Immediately, I knew this was the real deal. Move over, “Good Morning America”, BU is live, awake, and ready to inform…from sports to city news, celebrity gossip, you name it, GMBU has you covered.

Before I go any further, let’s back up to the night before. That’s right… on Wednesday evenings, students meet to put up the set, so they can promptly go live at 10 a.m. the next morning. During this time, the production team floods into the College of Communication’s (COM) labs to clip trending national and local news and create storyboards.

The following morning, everyone is back at COM by 8:30 a.m. Edit labs on the third floor are filled with students practicing lines, drafting scripts and testing studio equipment. It’s a lot of prep work with minimum time before heading into the studio for rehearsal at 9 a.m.

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Alex Hirsch, a first semester Journalism grad student focusing in Sports Broadcast, helps write the script and edit voice-overs for sports’ anchors Andre Khatchaturian and Mariah Kennedy (both third semester Journalism students focusing in Broadcast). Hirsch showed me how to run the teleprompter during GMBU’s sports segment, which to my surprise was a lot more complex than expected. The geek in me was quite impressed with the mechanics.

From 9 to around 9:45 a.m., is rehearsal time. Everyone’s running around, trying to get last minute things done before going live. Everything has to be perfect. No room for excuses. At this point, it’s clear, tensions are running high.

At exactly 10 a.m., Good Morning, BU finally goes on-air. I was very impressed with what I saw. Everything was so professional, so well executed, so well done that I felt as though I was watching a national news production.  Khatchaturian really brought it home with the sports commentary and hosts Ashley Davis (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’15) and Paul Dudley (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’16) were absolutely professional, on point and energetic. Everyone worked together as a great team to deliver the news.

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By 10:30 a.m., it’s all over.

But, before anyone leaves, the production team gets together to do a quick post-production meeting. Usually Professor Cavalieri (butv10 faculty advisor) gives everyone a run-down of how the show went and what changes need to be made for next week’s production.

During set cleanup, I got a chance to quickly speak with Ashley Davis, one of the executive producers and hosts, about her take on the production of GMBU. “Besides three returners, everyone for the most part is new. There are a lot of first timers,” she says. “Production is pretty hectic and can get extreme, but it’s still a very page-one, basis teaching in which we have to show everyone how to do things. But what’s great about this year’s team is that everyone’s a quick learner, so that helps get the show progressing. We’ve definitely improved since we first started!”

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GMBU is just another example of all the amazing opportunities available to students at BU’s College of Communication. It’s a huge commitment with high demands and expectations, but the rewards are absolutely priceless, especially for those interested in a career in broadcast. It’s a learning experience no textbook or lecture can teach, but every journalist should know.

I say it over and over again, but I cannot stress it enough– you have to really want to be here. GMBU is a fine example of students showing their commitment and drive to becoming successful in a highly-competitive industry.

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Check out GMBU’s Facebook and Twitter to see more clips and pictures from their set. Don’t forget to catch Good Morning, BU LIVE every Thursday at 11am. If you’re interested in joining GMBU’s team, email one of the show’s producers:

Ashley Davis – adavis17@bu.edu
Courtney Sonn - csonn@bu.edu 
Hayley Gershon - hgershon@bu.edu 

Want to learn more about the graduate programs at Boston University’s College of Communication? Ask us your questions in the comments section below and visit our site. 

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Behind the scenes: Film/TV and Journalism grad students work together

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

On various Fridays throughout the semester, BU’s Film and Television department at the College of Communication hosts free premier screenings of innovative film and television programs. This screening series is part of the department’s Cinemathèque: meetings and conversations with filmmakers/television-makers. The series’ curator is Gerald Peary, a cinema professor at Suffolk University and a long-time film critic for the Boston Phoenix. He chooses his BU programs based on his extensive contacts in the professional film world and from his travels to film festivals around the globe.

For each featured production, a special guest  (the producer, filmmaker, etc.) is invited to COM for the screening. During the screening, film students quickly escort the filmmaker to a brief interview shoot.  Afterwards, a Q&A is held to provide more information to the audience regarding the production process.

Setting up the interview.

Setting up the interview with Journalism and Film/TV graduate students .

However, it wasn’t until after this year’s first screening that the After this year’s first screening, the Cinemathèque team decided they wanted to shoot interviews with the featured guests. Clearly, figuring out the production technicalities for these interviews would not be an issue, but what they did need was someone who could ask the right questions.

Without much thought, fingers pointed in the direction of third semester Broadcast Journalism graduate student, Alistair Birrell. “I thought it would be a good way to hone my interviewing skills,” he said.

On Friday, October 24, Birrell interviewed filmmaker Frank V. Ross, during the screening of his film, Tiger Tail in Blue. This was Birrell’s second interview of the semester for Cinemathèque.

Allistair Birrell interviews filmmaker Frank V. Ross.

Alistair Birrell (MS, Broadcast Journalism ’15) interviews filmmaker Frank V. Ross.

With only a fifteen minute window, Birrell must make sure he steers the interview in the correct way. “Where are you from?” Ross asked Birrell during the interview. “I’m from Scotland, but we can talk about me later,” Birrell quickly responded.

Birrell prepares some of his questions beforehand.

After each interview, students on the production team edit the video down to around three or four minutes. All interviews are featured on the Cinemathèque page, so be sure to check out Alistair’s full interview with Ross.

Overall, this program is an excellent example of COM’s Film and Television department preparing its students with hands-on, practical experience for the ever so competitive entertainment industry. These are lessons no textbook can teach, yet something every student should experience.

Take a look at the 2014 Cinemathèque schedule here to see what will be screening over the next few weeks. Although these screenings are designed to primarily  benefit  Film and TV students, they are free for all BU students and professors as well as the general public.

Interested in applying to one of the graduate programs at BU’s College of Communication? Tell us which one and why in the comments below.

To find out more about all of the graduate programs available through COM, be sure to check out our website here.

 *Pictures by Nikita Sampath

 

 

PHOTO BY SARAH FISHER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

David Carr and Jill Abramson discuss the future of media

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

“Switch to something forward-looking, like blacksmithing,” David Carr teased, breaking the ice on his outlook for journalism at his much anticipated Fast Forward event. The event, which also included his former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, was equal parts laid back and engaging. It kicked off by Carr fielding a few brief questions on the future of journalism and the media with WBUR & NPR’s Here & Now co-host Jeremy Hobson.

Carr went on to explain there is a place in journalism for people who can create a concise piece of work and effectively distribute it to the right audience. When asked about the future of media, he didn’t make outright predictions but touched on issues facing print, the trouble of being a mid-sized publication, the declining influence of cable news and the transformation of newspapers to daily magazines. Talking about change, he explained how it usually comes very slowly, and then all at once. He likened print to intellectual jewelry, saying, “In 10 years, print will be a luxury artifact – web will be the primary vehicle.” He also discussed the importance of curation and the organization of news in a world of relentless information and content personalization.

Carr then took over as host, with Jill Abramson joining him onstage. The dynamic between the two was casual and jovial. The conversation flowed freely and without formality, Carr often probing and Abramson answering. Topics ranged from Ebola to the American Dream to the current generation. Carr calls worrying about successive generations a “waste of time”, saying “This generation is serious…we’re just pot smokers.”

Abramson was forthcoming on her career with the Times, saying “I devoted my career to telling the truth and the truth is I’m fired!” She said she misses the chase of being in the thick of the news, but she is enjoying her new role as a professor at Harvard. Much to everyone’s surprise, she nonchalantly dropped the news of a startup she is pitching with journalist Steven Brill, which will have her writing one long-form story annually. On news competition, she says she ceased thinking of other news organizations, as competition is coming from everywhere.

In closing, Abramson shared the best advice she ever received related to journalism: “Shut up and listen.” It was eye opening and entertaining to watch two of media’s most influential players bat ideas around and gain valuable insight.
Boston University is lucky to have Carr as a professor here at the College of Communication. Next semester, he’ll be teaching Media Criticism JO500.  If you’re interested in joining Professor Carr’s class, you can apply by critiquing a piece of media content in any medium you like. In the meantime, Abramson will continue to pursue her startup. So, shut up and stay tuned!

To find out about more events going on at BU’s College of Communication, check out the calendar here