FAMU students produce live election coverage

FAMU students worked together to produce a live election night special on Tuesday.
Photo submitted by Landy Coulanges.


As the polls closed on Tuesday, FAMU’s team of broadcast journalists worked together to produce an election night special.

It is different from any other show at News 20 at 5. Staff and students prepared for weeks in advance of Tuesday night.

Professors Kenneth Jones, Kalisha Whitman assisted directing students making the night successful.

Staff and students have been meeting since Oct. 19 to assign positions and organize the production of the show. The show aired at 10 p.m. covering the final races from candidates in numerous counties.

It was a big moment for the state of Florida, and many at FAMU were routing for FAMU grad Andrew Gillum to be the next governor.

It was an intense night while most journalism students met promptly at 6 p.m. Tuesday to gather information to prepare for the show. It was imperative that students stay on top of facts making sure what was broadcast was accurate.

Gabrielle Bolden and Diasha Henley produced the newscast while Kayla Carter and Christina Compere were responsible for social media. Aleya Bradley was the multimedia producer. Cierra Richardson and Morgan Martin were the anchors.

“I’ve been doing a lot of writing and a lot of research. I’m not a political person so it has been a bit challenging for me. The adjustments help me find respect for politics. It has been sleepless nights, but we made it and I’m excited. It’s a rush and good energy. I’m excited to see what we put out tonight,” Bradley said.

While the convergence room was full of action, directors Jones and Whitman paced back and forth making sure things were going well. Anchors, producers and students with The FAMUAN and Journey were all working, writing up scripts, checking facts and uploading content on social media. The time wound down as anchors Richardson and Martin ran through their lines preparing to open the show.

“It takes a lot of time to get a really smooth show. The script has been coming and going. There will be changes made here and there as we get results in. I’ve just been going over everything such as email, notes from meetings to updates from professor Jones and Whitman; as well as critiques from previous shows so we can incorporate those changes and make this show even more special. I go on with the intent to just give it my all so there’s always that pressure. But as soon as I’m on there and we’re live and we’ve started, that adrenaline kicks in and I just go for it,” Martin said.

Multimedia production camera crew members were flicking away, getting footage on students zoomed in to their task at hand. All TVs were on top news channels making sure everyone was on top of the news and confirming accurate updates.

News 20 at 5 was able to announce victories such as Amendment 4 passing, Jeremy Matlow winning city commission seat 3, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson retaining his seat in Congress.

The show would not be successful without the live shot reporters, floor directors, server, switching board, camera operator, teleprompter and studio audio, just to name a few. It takes a team to make the production successful whether it is in front or behind the scenes.

“The students prepared well for the day, you can’t get a better crew. A lot of the credit should go to Professor Kenneth Jones because he helps out so much and he’s been doing this for years and years. I think it is important for the students to understand what this is like. I always say election night coverage is like the Olympics in newsrooms. You start to see students who weren’t as involved get excited because it’s a race, whether it’s a horse race, a basketball tournament or football game. Just the element of competition makes people thrive and get excited. I think for students to be able to see this is an exciting moment for them whether they venture on into news or go into some other respective field. That way they understand it’s important to plan, it is important to prepare and it’s important to know the topics that you’re talking about, so you’ll be well versed no matter what happens. Great show to the students,” Whitman said.

FAMU’s News 20 at 5 airs every Monday and Wednesday at 5 p.m. and Fridays at 2 p.m.