Feature Stories

Stony Brook News Partners with Meteorology Club

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The Stony Brook News has joined with students in Stony Brook University’s Meteorology Club to strengthen the newscast’s weather forecasts, and by all accounts, the alliance is working.

Students in the club who have volunteered have each been matched with a Stony Brook News weather anchor to help produce a weekly weather segment.

According to Dahlia Ibrahim, the managing editor of the Stony Brook News, previously the show relied on second-hand sources like Weather.com for its forecasts. As a result, the weather anchors couldn’t offer any real meteorological explanations.

“That’s not what you see when you turn on the morning news,” said Ibrahim.

Now, the meteorology students have remedied the problem and helped make the weather segments more robust.

“Our audience will know why we had that rain, why those clouds are coming in– if they’re coming in from Canada or the south,” explained Ibrahim. “We sound so professional and we’re giving context instead of giving a rather bland and backless report.”

But this adds more than just a factual component to the Stony Brook News’ weather segment.

“For somebody like me who speaks English as a second language, the information provided gave me the confidence to stand in front of the camera and improvise,” said Brenda Blanco, a junior journalism major who was one of first weather anchors this season.

“I knew I had plenty of great, and intelligent facts to share,” Blanco said.

The partnership began taking shape last April when Charles Argento, the vice president of the club, contacted Associate Professor Jonathan Sanders, who teaches JRN 371, the class that produces the Stony Brook News show. Argento’s dream is be a weatherman on national television, but despite studying meteorology, he discovered that there weren’t any courses at the University on how to actually produce a weather forecast. Sanders saw this as an opportunity to bolster the Stony Brook news programs, as well as give students like Argento a chance at being on camera.

Together, along with Meteorology Club President Michael Colbert, they worked out the arrangement with the weather anchors, and developed a weather segment that’s been added to Stony Brook Newsbreak. However, these segments are entirely produced and reported by the meteorology students. Argento was one of the first students to anchor one of these segments.

“My dream is coming to life,” said Argento. “I feel like it was meant to be.”

The meteorology students are not on their own. Sanders and Technical Manager Philip Altiere have been holding weekly sessions to teach them on-air presentation, as well as the software the Stony Brook News uses to generate its weather graphics.

“I think the people at SOMAS need to be able to explain large phenomena to people and I want to help them do that,” said Sanders.

In the future, Sanders and the meteorology students hope to eventually create a cross-listed course that allows meteorology students to take at least part of JRN 371, which would create an even more cohesive program.

“We’re only in the beginning,” said Sanders. “We’re still learning what we’re learning.”


SOJ Scores Big with Live Webcast from Wolfstock

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The Stony Brook University School of Journalism produced its third live show this past Saturday – setting a new bar for the school’s student-run broadcasts.

The show covered Wolfstock, Stony Brook’s annual homecoming celebration and football game. At this time last year, the original Wolfstock Live had 264 views on it’s Vimeo page, but one year later, Wolfstock Live 2014 has over 400 views– adding up to a nearly 60 percent increase since last year. With guests like Globetrotter Anthony Buckets Blake and SBU President Samuel Stanley, it’s not hard to see why.

Planning for the show began soon after production finished on Roth Regatta Live, the SOJ’s last live show which aired last May. This gave Executive Producers Dahlia Ibrahim and Jessica Suarez five months to prepare, as opposed to the half month the showrunners of the original Wolfstock Live had to work with.

“For the first live show, we threw it together in two weeks and it was still a success,” said Ibrahim, who was on-air reporter for the original Wolfstock Live. “Now we’re giving ourselves months of time, so that we can really plan this down to the second.”

That precise timing was critical when it came to juggling the show’s scattered segments and reporters. Besides Anchors Brendan Jones and Jaclyn Lattanza, who were based inside Wolfstock Village for the first time, Wolfstock Live also featured three field reporters: Agatha Michalak, Eric Santiago and Basil John.

Throughout the show, the anchors and reporters continuously threw the feed back to one another– all in real-time. With Michalak set up on the opposite end of Wolfstock Village from the anchors, Santiago located at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium and John filming a food segment, the producers had to rely on a new communications system developed by Technical Manager Philip Altiere.

In the past, “there was no singular device to be able to communicate with everyone,” said Altiere. But now, “people can talk to each other more easily, and know exactly what’s coming up next, which is absolutely crucial for a live show success.”

Those words proved prophetic on Saturday when last-minute changes forced the show to turn on a dime. With guests arriving late, others dropping out and even some being added, the producers had to continuously rearrange the order of the show’s segments to keep moving forward. But this wasn’t a shock to those involved.

“Anything can happen in live TV,” said John.

None of this would have been possible without the show’s elaborate technical set up. Altiere, with the help of student production assistants, was able to dismantle the SOJ studio control room and reassemble it in the heart of Wolfstock Village.

From there, the Wolfstock Live team was able to set up all of the equipment for the broadcast, including the Padcaster technology the SOJ demoed at the Content and Communications World Expo. Combined with the new communication system, this allowed Wolfstock Live 2014 to be as flexible as necessary. For Altiere, it came down to two factors.

“Preparation and communication are key,” he said.

Click here to view the broadcast.