Falcon Media continues to serve audiences

Student journalists adapt to changes caused by COVID-19

By Andrew Addessi

For the first time in the BG News’ 100-year history, printing has been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But Falcon Media, which includes the BG News, BG24 TV, WBGU-FM and Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization, continues to serve the community, bringing audiences the information they need to stay healthy and connected during these unusual times.

Email, phone calls and virtual meetings are allowing Bowling Green State University student journalists to continue reporting, writing and posting stories despite a statewide stay-at-home order.

“A lot of us consider ourselves not just students studying journalism, but journalists,” said junior Bri Scebbi, the BG News editor-in-chief. “Our job as journalists is to help out our community, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Falcon Media Sports Director Maxwell Marko added, "People need to be informed. That is why it is our duty as journalists to continue to do our jobs no matter the obstacles in front of us."

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact students personally and professionally, the passion behind the stories is still there. Unable to meet in person to pitch ideas, discuss stories, and assign writers and copyeditors, the team has been using online video and social media to keep in contact with each other.

"While things may not be close to normal in our public lives, we are hoping our outlet continues to produce as it did before this pandemic - hopefully even more given the gravity of the situation," Maxwell said. "This needs to be done for the people of the University and the city of Bowling Green. While in-depth updates and diligent reporting are key, when everyone is cooped up in their homes some good, old-fashioned storytelling can go a long way."

“If anything, it strengthens the motivation the team has to make sure that our peers are informed and that they know all the things they need to know to be safe and healthy during this time. I’m really proud of my team,” Scebbi said.

The shift from print to online is not completely foreign. As a modern news organization, many BG News stories that appeared in print were also online even before the closures.

“I’ve been finding new ways to work and produce content remotely,” said sophomore Hunter Huffman, BG News campus editor. “One example is a vlog-esque video series that I’ve been working on. I’m one of the few students staying on campus, so the purpose of the series to keep students keyed in on what’s happening at their university.”

One of the biggest losses, said Huffman, a media production student, is not being able to meet in person, and not being able to go out to talk with and interview people.

“Our news staff isn’t just a group of coworkers, we’re a group of very good friends,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that we on-the-spot bounce off of each other, and ideas aren’t as easy to come across online, especially with technical problems and scheduling when we all meet for a web chat.”

Maxwell added, "The toughest thing I have had to deal with is staying in my hometown of Buffalo, New York, since spring break. It was nerve-wracking to feel so disconnected from everything, but I think I quickly saw that wasn't the reality and outgrew it. For the most part, everything seems to be transitioning fine. It can obviously be a little tough continuing without the normal schedule and routine everyone was accustomed to, but when you're really working it doesn't feel like everyone else is hundreds of miles away."

Despite these obstacles, Scebbi, Huffman, Maxwell and the rest of the Falcon Media team remain optimistic and continue to work to keep the University and the community informed and up-to-date.

“For me, the BG News is my home at BG,” Huffman said. “These past few years, I’ve loved what I’ve done, met some amazing people, and gotten to do some incredible things. They gave me a platform to experiment, to try things, to make mistakes.”