Dawson – Practicum: Week 4 (Finale)

This wasn’t just my last week of practicum, but it was my last week of classes at SAIT. I was asked to make a news pack for my supervisor that also made it into the final show–and I had to put it all together in an hour because it wasn’t really up to snuff the first time around. I was actually proud of the result for the first time since the start of the quarantine.

We had our last Newsfile class watch, and it ended somewhat somber. I still had to finish my demo website so I couldn’t stick around for a lot of it either.

There were a lot of tears from what I was still there to see. James ended the last show in such an eloquent nice way too–which somewhat added to the sting. It was difficult not being able to really engage with the class as we watched and talked.

But it’s not all about feeling bad. I think everyone shared the same feeling of accomplishment coming out of a semester that had some added challenge tacked on–especially the instructors who deserve some props for getting things together for the students on such short notice. It wasn’t easy to get everything done, and with the helpline not being helpful or online frequently (I know they have a lot of people to help) it was made pretty difficult to get things together at times. I was extremely anxious going into my last few assignments until someone at the Adobe help desk was able to set me up with a loophole for getting creative cloud back.

It’s rough looking back on pre-quarantine because in many ways it felt like I wasn’t grateful for how much more facility we had over what we could do, how and when. I remember just before the quarantine started some of us spoke about how it felt like something disastrous was coming up–like how the air gets thicker before a storm. It hasn’t been a disaster, but it’s been hard. Knowing that we may not get a chance to be a relatively full class together again will be hard too. Now it’s over, and it’s been a few days of listless, zero-activity days. I go on walks when I can, and get fresh air, talk to people online or over the phone, but something about it is so much more confining–even though it’s all what I’d likely be doing right now anyway.

This is my last “assignment” for the class, and I was putting it off a bit because I don’t know if I’m alright with it all being truly “over”, you know? But it is.

It’s been fun, but nothing fun is permanent. Thanks RTBN, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat (that is not a request to fail me please don’t do that).

Dawson – Practicum: Week 1

Cab·in fe·ver

noun – INFORMAL •NORTH AMERICAN

irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.

“a great energy-burning game for exuberant Cubs with midwinter cabin fever”

There is currently no definition for “pandemic fever” aside from what that obviously actually means. I’ve left the house once in the last 2 weeks, and since then the world has become even more strict on travel outside. If the world weren’t wrought to it’s current state by the COVID-19 crisis I would be doing my practicum in Lloydminster, but with most reporters working from home it was too difficult for the station to supervise any practicum students–and the place I had planned to stay had to cancel for safety reasons.

Currently I am learning from Global News Calgary producer Joanne Reid, which I am both grateful for and excited about. Production behind the scenes is one of my passions and hearing about what goes on in the production room in industry is really enlightening–especially in circumstances like this one.

Reporting is considered an essential service right now, which means reporters are given paperwork to avoid fines if they are found out and about currently. With employees and workers in such short supply, Global Calgary even had to purpose the Edmonton show as an Alberta update for the weekend of March 21/22. Calgary anchors and reporters still did cut-ins with local news, but Joanne said that there were still complaints. She added that this is the first time in her career that they haven’t had a show to put together.

Joanne says that the Coronavirus has caused a phenomenon where the news seems to be covering a single ongoing story with several angles each day–akin to press coverage of 9/11. Trying to come up with story ideas to help has been difficult, and the schedule that Joanne works on adds some complications–but depending how this next week goes I could possibly catch meetings if I rework my sleep schedule. It needs some re-ordering anyway.

I was unable to do a video call with Joanne and on top of that there has been an issue with my video editing software so I have no blog project to show for this week, however I’ve had time to absorb and assess information on media coverage during the crisis.

The last few weeks have seen a lot of projects done from home for reporters, and with a short amount of staff in production there are instances where the workload becomes a bit more difficult–whether you see it or not. Sometimes the prompter doesn’t work, and an anchor will have to be more reliant on paper scripts. Sometimes an interview will need to be changed to be more topical, something that Global News had to do Thursday in order to remain relevant with COVID-19 information: a nutritionist was going to be on the show, but now, via skype, she was giving tips regarding eating healthy in quarantine. The restrictions on live interviews seem to limit them to being done on the porch of houses rather than inside–speaking to people on the street requires handing them the microphone (a practice not often recommended) or coming up with a method of holding it like a makeshift boom mic.

The city is much quieter, making events like crime suddenly an even bigger story to cover in news because it’s local. It’s an event. Otherwise stories tend to focus much more on personal experiences of individuals trying to make a difference, or those effected by the pandemic’s change.

It’s been stressful for workers. When some of us convened to speak about our practicum experience we talked about how our locations and supervisors were dealing with the experience. Reporters suddenly have a lot more difficulty trying to make B-Roll, and students under them especially so as they are advised not to leave home. Anchors need to stretch material for longer with more to say in order to fill the same timeframe that would normally be filled by much more diverse news. Producers need to extend the bounds of local stories more. Burn-out is a much more prevalent issue than before.

Currently, my “homework” has been to rewrite scripts and type up web-copy as a demonstration of what I can do, as well as put together story ideas for the upcoming week. Hopefully I haven’t bombed that.

Dawson