The Ups and Downs of Story Day

The Ups and Downs of Story Day

For students in the Broadcast and Digital Journalism (BDJ) master’s program, “story day” can be long and stressful. Many days students are working close to or right until deadline to get their news packages turned in.

“Story day” is the one day out of the week that students have to work on their news packages. News packages consist of a strong and specific story idea, a real person (someone who is living the story), an expert, b-roll, natural sound and your best sound bytes from the interviewees.

There is a lot of preparation students must do prior to story day. Students must pitch a story idea six days ahead of time. The idea is to give students almost a week to prepare for the story, so they aren’t scrambling to organize things at the last minute.

Things don’t always go as planned, even when students try and set up interviews ahead of time. Sometimes people don’t answer the phone, people don’t want to be on camera, or you have to talk to a company’s corporate office before you can set up an interview. These are just a few examples of the issues students face when trying to prepare for story day.

There are also times when students have interviews set up and then the person they were supposed to interviews cancels the day before or the day of. This sets students back even more, especially when they were relying on that one person to come thru.

Sometimes students are able to get interviews set up days in advance and have a strong story focus making story day much easier. This is the ideal scenario.

For students who don’t have a car transportation, it can be an issue. Many students have to Uber to and from each interview because that is the only way they can get there. There are also times when students have to travel 30 minutes to an hour (sometimes more) just to do an interview or film b-roll.

Students also face issues once they have finished all of their interviews and shot all necessary b-roll. One reoccurring issue that students face are technical difficulties using the Adobe Premiere software to edit their package. Like Professor Simon Perez always says, “what can go wrong, will go wrong” and sometimes it seems like Premiere doesn’t want to see students succeed. But, there are always teacher assistants there to help students when they face any technical difficulties.

Another issue students face is trying to select what videos to use in their story, while working to meet deadline. Students might have anywhere from 10-30 minutes worth of video, and they have to condense that into 1 minute and 30 seconds, while making sure the story has the same focus throughout.

Story day can last 12 hours or more. News packages are due at 11 p.m. the same day. It is recommended that students set up interviews as early as possible, so they are not rushing to meet deadline. If a student has an interview set up early in the day and then has a story set up later in the afternoon, they can find themselves sitting around playing the waiting game. Students should keep their schedule clear on story day because you never know what will happened and students must meet deadline or they receive an F; there are no exceptions.

With all the being said, at the end of the day, when students submit their packages it is the most satisfying feeling in the world. It’s nothing like being proud of something you put hours into and finally get to see the finished product. The BDJ program can be very stressful and time consuming, but students will be proud of everything they learn and accomplish.


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Brandon Williams
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