Five broadcast journalism students put their multimedia skills to the test during Oxford’s 18th Annual Double Decker Festival. Under the direction of professors Nancy Dupont and Deb Wenger, the team went to work for both WTVA-TV in Tupelo and HottyToddy.com in Oxford, covering events that began as early as 7:30 a.m. and working well past the end of the 6 p.m. newscast on WTVA.
The students also felt the pressure of real-time reporting with additional requirements to tweet story updates and photos, as well as to write text pieces for the Hotty Toddy website.
This is the second year in a row that Meek School students have covered the festival for WTVA. C.J. LeMaster, who anchors and produces the WTVA weekend shows, says the station is happy to work with the students and he enjoys helping them get the experience they’ll need to succeed on the job.
“It’s a humbling experience for me. Not that long ago, I was in their shoes, trying to learn as much as I could. No matter how young or ‘green’ you are as a journalist, you have to start somewhere, and someone has to give you that break, that chance to prove yourself,” said LeMaster. “It’s an honor and a privilege to help these students get some real feedback and experience in the industry.”
Graduating senior Stephen Quinn woke up before the sun to cover the Double Decker Spring Run. He found dozens of participants dedicating their miles to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Students Brittani Acuff and Stewart Pirani focused one story on festival food for the HottyToddy website and another on a Tupelo artist for the WTVA Sunday newscast.
Brandon Rook found out why so many people come back to Double Decker year after year for his piece which aired on WTVA’s 10 p.m. show on Saturday night.
But it may have been Bracey Harris who had the most fun covering the Square Fair for Kids where the younger set had a blast with the space-themed amusements.
Harris appreciated the chance to learn about working under deadline pressure.
“Today gave me experience that can only be gained outside of the classroom. I am fortunate to have guidance from Meek School faculty even when the week ends,” said Harris. “I found myself challenged and even frustrated at times, but the lesson was worth it. Field work is organized chaos, but I survived and am better prepared for the future because of it.”