As much as I love staying consistent, covering exclusively coronavirus stories for weeks on end can do something to a person.
This week we decided to switch it up and add a segment we called “Thoughtful Thursday.” Due to what my heart can only assume was an overall lack of combined creative brainpower during this trying time in our lives, my fellow producer and I decided to stay loyal to that very original title.
What started as an in-class assignment quickly turned into something we needed to materialize. Our story was drowned out by more serious pitches during the morning meeting, so we came back later in the day with a new group of undergraduate reporters and had to work faster to make it happen.
We ran with an idea Bella, my co-producer, found on Facebook about a USC student and her mother. They told us they are a “family of fashion designers” and decided to use their talents to make DIY masks for students still on campus.
Fortunately, we were able to reach them fairly easily through Facebook messenger and they were both willing to do an interview with our reporter and send photos of their masks. The piece ended up being a great way to end the show on a happier note, highlighting people who have gone above and beyond to help other people during a time when we are all experiencing some type of hardship.
While we were grateful to have lucked out for that show, we also recognized the struggle to find people in the future. We have all heard stories of Good Samaritans throughout the pandemic, but how do you find them if another news organization hasn’t already?
We certainly could have chosen an easier topic. We are fortunate to be a part of a large collegiate network filled with potential sources, experts and people with a wide range of life experiences. Instead, we decided to challenge ourselves. Through this segment, we have to make efforts to connect with people we don’t know, despite not being able to get acquainted in person.
During unprecedented times like this, it’s easy to forget the things you used to value. When we were in the media center, we wanted to find new people and highlight their perspectives. Now dispersed to different parts of the country, our teams can often rely on what is comfortable. Reaching out to family members, professors and fellow students for sources is a safe bet. But what makes this segment special is how uncomfortable it makes us by not allowing us to do just that.
Instead, we are pushing ourselves to find new people. People we haven’t talked to before; people whose stories we haven’t heard. In the most unexpected way possible, it keeps us a little closer to the track we were on before all this happened.
And yes, it distracts you from eating another unnecessary extra meal. Resist that strong gravitational pull towards the refrigerator and make some phone calls instead.