By Emma Herro, Risk & Crisis Communication ‘20

Schools, educators and students are all adjusting to a new academic world because of COVID-19. Here at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, we are all coming together and adapting to a new way of learning.

Murrow News 8 (COMJOUR 465) is a newscast produced, written, anchored and crewed all by students at Murrow College. With WSU’s online transition, these journalism & media production students faced a challenge adjusting their in-studio show to be created remotely. Matt Loveless, a Clinical Assistant Professor at Murrow College, led the efforts in shifting to a new format.

“Obviously, without the ability to bring students in to sit on a news desk together, and the inability to have a production team do the technical work on the show, the newscast as we knew it is done,” Loveless said. “As such, this week or two returning from spring break have been set aside to re-train on new technology so we can get up and running again.”

Despite these obstacles with technology and software, Loveless is grateful to have an innovative, tech-savvy team of students that have already launched an online newscast conducted through online programs such as Zoom video conferencing and Open Broadcaster Software (OBS).

 “If you’ve ever wondered how YouTubers and online gamers can add some decent production value to their at-home broadcasts, it’s often through this OBS system,” Loveless said. “Aside from the inevitable pitfalls of internet connectivity, it will allow our product to look relatively unchanged.”

Ariel Iacobazzi, a Murrow College junior enrolled in the Murrow New 8 class, notes that she is a visual and a hands-on learner, but maintains an optimistic attitude, especially with the useful software they’ve been able to utilize while streaming from home.

“[OBS] allows us to stream a live newscast from our computers straight to YouTube,” Iacobazzi said. “We’ve only used this a couple of times, but it’s allowing us to reach viewers in this uncertain time, and that’s most important for us as journalists.”

Loveless mentions that with everything going on in the news world in regards to COVID-19, it’s forced anchors, producers, and storytellers, in general, to be more creative when it comes to sharing the news, but the overarching values of journalism remain the same.

“Our standards can’t change just because the resources have,” Loveless said. “I do believe that the news will come out of this more tech-savvy than ever across the board, so that opens up a lot of possibilities. I know I plan to incorporate some of these lessons in future classes.”

Despite all of the quick changes students and faculty have had to make, there’s a universal sense of support, hope and resiliency among everyone at Murrow News 8.

“Most instructors are begging for student interaction and we get excited when we see an email from a student with a question,” Loveless said. “Their education matters to us, and it helps to know that it matters to them.”

Jane McDonald, a junior at Murrow College studying Broadcast News, says the adjustment to online learning has been smoother than expected. She admits that although nothing can compare to sitting behind the anchor desk, she’s proud of how she and her classmates have adjusted.

“Even though some of us are many states away, the team is dedicated to producing high-quality news for the local area by communicating regularly, trying out innovative ways of storytelling and asking for help when needed,” McDonald said. “We are still dedicated to providing the students of WSU and the locals of the Palouse with timely, reputable news.”

Another Murrow News 8 student, Sophia Canton, provides a great piece of advice that she hopes fellow classmates can keep in mind during this time of change and uncertainty.

“Be nice to your professors, take your classes seriously, and just try to get through it,” Canton said. “Everyone is experiencing this together, which I find solace in because it means that I am not alone in my frustrations. We will get through it and persevere because, as Cougs, that is just what we do!”

Murrow News 8 live streams nightly on YouTube at 5:30 p.m. PST and Friday afternoons at 12:30 p.m. PST. Click here to view the nightly newscasts. Visit their Facebook page to stay up-to-date with all the latest news on the Palouse.