For the second straight year, Florida A&M University’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication hosted the National Association of Black Journalists multi-media short course. Students from universities across the country including American, Grambling, Howard, North Carolina Central, Oklahoma, Southern Mississippi and of course FAMU’s very own were in attendance. All of the members of NABJ were assigned to be involved in a newscast this past weekend.
The short course was supervised and overseen by professors Kenneth Jones and Michael Douglas. It included mentors from CNN, The Tampa Bay Times and WFLA-TV located in Tampa. These mentors helped guide the students through the rigors of producing a newscast on air in the same day it was assigned.
Mentor and WFLA-TV anchor Rod Carter said the short course is a big help to all of the students who decide to take part.
"I do. I think it helps a great deal because it’s a real world to a great extent journalism experience," Carter said.
Producers, executive producers, reporters and anchors were the roles assigned to the NABJ members and they were broken up into two teams to produce two newscasts. Some students had never been in that position before. Senior Bianca Brown, a journalism student from Howard University, earned the role of producer.
She said she knows she wants to be a producer even though she never produced before. She didn't let her lack of experience hinder her during the course.
"It was kind of a crash course in everything. As the days went on I really got a grasp of what a producer has to do and feel like I learned a whole bunch." Brown said.
Of course nothing in news can go as planned. The first newscast was set back three hours due to technical errors.
But like they say the show must go on. The students didn’t allow the setback stop them from producing their newscast. Tierra Smith, a sports anchor from Grambling University, shed a few tears because of her nerves.
Smith said, “When you want to do something so well you put a lot of pressure on yourself even when you’re kind of unexperienced. I think for a second I was really overwhelmed with everything and it just came out in tears.”
Carter deals with the overwhelming feeling and technical issues all the time as a morning Tampa anchor.
While talking about the errors he said the first group handled them “perfectly”.
Despite those tears, Smith and others said the short course served its purpose and it really helped them.
“It helped me a lot. I’m more motivated now to go back to school and find ways to do multi-media things and find time to work on school television and newscasts.” Smith said.
Brianna Williams, a junior from American University, is a print journalism student. She felt the short course helped her develop broadcast skills.
“It helped me become more well-rounded as a journalist. I learned a lot especially in producing, editing doing stand-ups.” Williams said.
The whole purpose behind the NABJ short course is to compress information into a weekend and to learn things that were never done before by its members. And of course these students build relationships that will last a lifetime.
“We got a lot of help with our resumes and cover letters. We learned about some internships and I’ve built some great relationships that I will hold on to … forever.” Brown said.