Students enrolled in Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts’ inaugural Broadcast Journalism course honed the research, digital, and storytelling skills necessary to cover issues they are passionate about. From reporting on Bird scooters becoming dangerous and an environmental threat to how marijuana is changing our culture, students dove into real newsworthy stories and learned how to capture them through hands-on production and project-based work.
Kate Pickert, assistant professor and professional journalist, and Carol Costello, former CNN anchor and first lady of Loyola Marymount University, co-taught the course. With years of industry experience between them, Pickert and Costello provided students with real-world insight on writing clear and condensed multimedia stories.
Costello shares, “Effective journalists not only know how to research a story, but go out and find a story. They need to open their minds to different points of view and try to understand why people feel a certain way and how that shapes public policy. The joy in journalism is experiencing history firsthand. Not sitting in a newsroom (or classroom) listening to whomever.”
Los Angeles is the number two media market in the nation and students took to the streets to find their stories. One student interviewed a woman who had escaped a serial killer. Another obtained an interview with a pregnant woman who smoked marijuana throughout her pregnancy. One spoke with LAPD about how difficult it is to detect people driving under the influence of marijuana. Someone else talked with a porn star who lectures fraternity men on sexual consent.
“It is possible for young journalists to do important work outside of the university setting on a short deadline,” reflects Costello proudly.
Many students have taken courses in print media, but broadcast writing and production requires a different set of skills. The course offered glimpses into all the ways to gather and tell stories. They used digital cameras, and worked with the editing program Premiere. Phones also now offer innumerable possibilities, from catching unexpected news to a live studio app that allows you to record an entire show.
Dominque Williams, a student from the class reflects, “Coming into this class, I thought it was going to be difficult, but I had no idea what I was in for. It was one of my first times using a DSL-R Camera, being in front of a camera, and editing my own footage. So, I was definitely pushed all the way out of my comfort zone, but that is the exact reason that I declared the journalism minor.”
Another student, Legend Mairs, expanded himself in unexpected ways, “I genuinely got better at reaching out and speaking to people. That is invaluable.”
Notable guest speakers such as a LAPD Deputy Chief and the FBI agent who investigated and cleared Amanda Knox also visited the class to share their expertise.
“The professors pushed us and made us write TV scripts about a rape case one of the first few weeks of class. This assignment made me nervous at first, but they built a welcoming class where everyone was focused on learning. I loved having direct and honest feedback on my work…[I knew I] was getting valuable instruction from two industry professionals,” says Michael Torres, who recently graduated and is now working at KSBY-TV in San Luis Obispo as an on-air reporter.
“In this course, I learned how much creativity, organization and confidence is required in order to be a TV news reporter,” says Kellie Miller, who will begin a graduate journalism program at USC in the fall. “Every skill I learned in this class is transferable to other forms of journalism, and even to other forms of work. This course gave me an exciting glimpse of what lies ahead.”
Costello is already looking forward to teaching the next course and how the syllabus can evolve, “I would love to take students out into the field to cover rallies, and breaking news. There is a lot on the horizon in 2020 and it will be exciting.