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OU Nightly Still Reporting – Just from a Distance

OU Nightly Still Reporting – Just from a Distance

March 31, 2020

While COVID-19 has disrupted everyday life, it hasn’t stopped the students behind OU Nightly from reporting the news. 

This week, despite being spread out across several cities in five different states, OU student journalists began producing and anchoring the daily newscast from the substitute studios of their apartments and backyard patios, instead of Gaylord Hall. 

“We wanted to continue what we’ve been doing at school, even though we aren’t on campus anymore,” said Abby Foster, senior producer for OU Nightly. “Similarly to how we operate on campus, we have a different team working every day to put together each newscast.”

Several students gather information from sources, while others create video “reporter packages.” One student serves as the anchor and records themselves reading the news. Once all recordings are complete, another student edits them together and adds graphics. Finally, the complete program is aired on OU Nightly’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and its website

“All of the students involved in this remote production are doing it as a way to keep OU Nightly alive,” said Barbara Merckx, adjunct faculty member and OU Nightly executive producer. “It is not required coursework, which amazes me!”

Cal Day reporting remotely for OU Nightly

The newscast provides real-world experience for students, most of whom are enrolled in TV reporting courses and news and production practicums through the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. OU Nightly also includes a weather segment, which is handled by students from the School of Meteorology.

Producing the newscast remotely requires communication and collaboration. Students are using Zoom, Slack and FaceTime to communicate and produce the newscast – a big change from the routine. 

“Like most newsrooms covering this crisis, we are learning how to keep a newscast going in a rapidly changing environment,” Merckx said. “Even the network news has people anchoring from home right now. Everyone in the industry is making it up as we go along.”

OU Nightly is produced daily under the guidance of News Director Bob Dickey and airs live at 4:30 p.m. on OUTV and Cox Cable during the fall and spring semesters. Ken Fischer serves as the faculty advisor.