Last fall, broadcast news major Chad Beighley learned lesson number one about live television – you can’t stop the news.
Beighley was the first SOJ student to go live as part of a new partnership between the School and MSNBC called “MSNBC on Campus.” Beighley was set to report about WVU’s new text-alert system, but he saw firsthand the challenge of live television when his segment was delayed by the breaking news of a landslide in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He waited six hours in the announcer’s chair hooked up to a microphone that day without any breaks but eventually had to come back the next day to do the shot.
Nevertheless, Beighley calls the experience “nothing short of amazing.”
“I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to represent my class and my university and to kick off what will hopefully be a long and prosperous relationship,” said Beighley. “I was playing it off like it wasn’t a big deal, but my hands were shaking. Luckily, the camera didn’t show my hands.”
“MSNBC on Campus” features college reporters across the country covering local news stories and breaking news, as well as student reactions to national news stories.
The School began its partnership with “MSNBC on Campus” in Fall 2007, when the network invited WVU to participate after seeing SOJ students’ coverage of the Virginia Tech tragedy.
The collaboration with MSNBC is one of two new partnerships that gives SOJ students the opportunity to showcase their broadcasting and producing talents both on a national and international level.
The other partnership with the Open Student Television Network (OSTN) provides students the opportunity to produce and broadcast stories that will be shown globally online.
After OSTN officials saw SOJ students’ broadcast on MSNBC, the School was invited to collaborate with the 24-hour online, global television network beginning in January 2008.
The online network is devoted to student-produced programming and aims to provide opportunities for students through experience and exposure. More than 100 television stations, broadcast journalism and film departments contribute to the network, which serves nearly 60 million subscribers in 46 countries around the globe.
“Getting your work featured on a newscast via the Internet that’s seen by millions really enables students to hit the ground running on their first job out of school,” said Gina Martino Dahlia, broadcast news program chair.
The stories chosen for broadcasting are selected after the students pitch their “WVU News” story to Dahlia in the news team’s weekly meeting. Dahlia sends the stories to the producers of both networks, who then review and select the stories they want to be broadcast. When a story is selected, the student is given the opportunity to either go live on MSNBC or be broadcast on OSTN.
“I have received so much positive feedback from the students regarding these partnerships,” said Dahlia. “It motivates them to do the best they can, and it really builds confidence.”
Broadcast news senior Steve Butera did a story for OSTN on a chemical spill on I-68 and the emergency response afterward. The story was selected by the network to inform other students how to react in case they were in a similar situation.
“Getting our stories out there to that big of a following is dumbfounding,” said Butera. “We can give the viewers a little piece of what WVU and West Virginia is all about.”
Dahlia believes this real-world experience will give students the confidence to take the industry head on and leave WVU well prepared for their careers.
“Students feel that if they can get their work featured on MSNBC or a 24-hour network, then they can do anything when they graduate,” said Dahlia.