WTTW News correspondents host a virtual town hall


WTTW News correspondents and producers Brandis Friedman and Paris Schutz hosted a virtual town hall meeting, WTTW NEWS: COVERING COVID-19, to share their experiences producing local news in the age of COVID-19 with Chicago/Illinois journalism students.

The town hall was recorded on May 22 from the CHICAGO TONIGHT studio, and remotely from participant’s homes. Viewers can find the special at wttw.com/coveringcovid on June 1, 2020. 

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In the 40-minute special, Brandis and Paris discuss how the WTTW News team came together in the early days of the pandemic to reinforce WTTW’s commitment to serve the Chicago region with fact-based news, trusted information, and extensive and inclusive enterprise reporting about the developing public health crisis. With the goal of having a two-way conversation among professional and student reporters, WTTW News reached out to several area journalism schools.

Participants included:

Northwestern University
Marissa Martinez
Briana Garrett

Loyola University Chicago
Eileen O’Gorman
Nick Schultz

DePaul University
Michael Abraham
Marissa Nelson

Columbia College
Lauren Leazenby
Paige Barnes

Governors State University
Charles Clayton
Nia Brown

University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
Tristen Kissack
JJ Kim

In addition to passing questions back and forth, the group of professional and student journalists discuss: 

• What is the role of local news in serving the needs of the public, especially during a national crisis?

• What was it like in the newsroom in the first few days after the Illinois at-home orders were announced?

• How and why did WTTW News decide that reporting live from neighborhoods across the Chicago region was essential to effective storytelling?

• How do social distancing practices affect the day to day of reporting and producing live television and digital journalism? 

• What happens next? Will Chicago Tonight go back to covering news as it did before the emergency began, once the city and state stay-at-home orders are lifted?

“The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges and opportunities for journalists unlike any we have faced,” said Hugo Balta, News Director for WTTW News. “This virtual town hall provides an opportunity for us to share what we have learned with the next generation of journalists, and hear from them to get their developing perspectives.”

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