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“Journalism doesn’t stop for a pandemic”: J-School supplied students with video kits

Production kits have been provided to journalism students amidst online learning.

Though King’s is operating online this year, journalism students are equipped to continue reporting thanks to the distribution of mobile production video kits.

COVID-19 prompted the introduction of personal gear. Before the pandemic, students booked and borrowed equipment including DSLR cameras, tripods, and microphones from the journalism school to aid their reporting. With remote instruction and campus under restricted access, an alternative form of gear accessibility was needed. Students also needed equipment enabling them to report safely and to adhere to social distancing requirements.

To satisfy these demands, each journalism student in their second, third, or fourth year or studying toward their master’s degree received a mobile production kit. In the first few weeks of school, 70 kits were mailed or left for contactless pick up at the university. Four more kits await students beginning their Masters of Journalism in January.

Wireless microphone provided in the kit. Photo credits: Kheira Morellon

“The kits we are sending out to the students include all of the most popularly borrowed items from the school, so the need to borrow equipment has been greatly reduced,” said Jeff Harper, who teaches photojournalism, in an email.

Included in each kit is a wireless microphone, connecting cable, tripod, and tripod phone clip. Wireless microphones – normally limited in the school’s equipment supply – were provided for safer reporting. Students also received a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud to support their online learning. 

Though the school’s equipment room is closed, students may request to borrow gear not included in their kits. Students can contact Harper and requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

Alec Martin, a fourth-year student, says they are pleased with the gear’s quality.

“They gave us stuff that will allow us to do our job, to do it professionally and effectively,” Martin said. 

The journalism school requested funding for the kits from the university in the spring. The special request was approved as an overage to the journalism school’s budget. By early June, the plan for the kits was established by consultation between the school and journalism professors. 

Students in their fourth year received an email notice on July 22 about the kits and online curriculum delivery.

Microphone on the cell phone mount provided in the mobile video production kit. Photo credits: Kheira Morellon

Talia Meade, another fourth-year student, is pleased with both. She says King’s is doing well to accommodate students.

“I’m very stoked that King’s was able to put together this kit,” said Meade. “and they’re doing a really good job with online learning for the journalism program.”

The personal gear should be an asset for students this year.

Tim Currie, director of the journalism school, was involved in the planning for the kits. “I think this is a difficult year for everyone involved, and I know in many ways the students are paying the same tuition they did last year for a different learning experience,” said Currie, “so I hope this is one of the ways in which the student experience is enhanced over previous years”. 

After completing the program, students can keep their gear. Currie is unsure whether the initiative will continue in years to come. “We haven’t made that decision yet, but we will as we go forward,” he said.

Martin said that the program has reinforced that “journalism doesn’t stop for a pandemic.”

For now, students are prepared to continue reporting. “The train keeps rolling.”

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