Northeastern teams up with two leading local TV news organizations and Stanton Foundation for video news research project

Reinventing Local TV News, Research
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BOSTON, MA – Monday, July 1, 2019 – Media researchers at Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston, Mass., will partner with two leading local news stations, WLS-TV/Chicago and WCVB-TV/Boston, along with the Stanton Foundation for a cutting-edge Video News Research Project. The project will test the use of new forms of animation, graphics, and data visualization in video storytelling. 

Year-long, paid fellowship positions will be created as part of the project, one position at each of these top major market television stations in Chicago and Boston. Innovative visual storytellers are encouraged to apply for the Visual Content Producer positions immediately. (Email CVs and work samples to reinventingtvnews@gmail.com). These positions will be full-time, salaried roles with benefits; the television stations will make hiring decisions and will employ the producers, who will also serve as industry liaisons to the Northeastern faculty. 

The Video News Research Project will build on a previous phase of research at Northeastern about the future of local television news. The project is being led by Northeastern Professors Mike Beaudet, an Emmy award-winning TV news investigative reporter, and John Wihbey, the head of journalism graduate programs and a director of the new Co-Laboratory for Data Impact. 

“We will work in partnership with these new Visual Content Producers and their news teams to assess how innovative storytelling approaches might perform in the real world, based on testing and a variety of metrics,” said Beaudet, also a reporter at WCVB. “We want to help ensure that local news attracts new audiences both on-air and online, finds innovative ways to engage the general public with hard news, and ultimately maintains its vital civic and educational purpose long into the future.” 

“We’re looking forward to collaborating again with Northeastern University on the latest phase of the video news research project. We believe the new Visual Content Producer working in tandem with the top news team in Chicago will help us continue to modernize and engage with the next generation of news viewers,” said John Idler, President and General Manager, ABC 7 Chicago. 

The Stanton Foundation, created by former CBS President Dr. Frank Stanton, has the development of a better informed citizenry as one of its primary missions. It will support the overall academic-industry partnership with a grant of nearly $500,000. This funding builds on a prior grant from Stanton of $150,000 to the Northeastern researchers, which led to the national study that involved testing of experimental videos in partnership with six television stations across the country, including WLS-TV. That study found evidence that audiences are craving in-depth, hard news video storytelling and they want it delivered in a visually compelling way. 

“Polling shows that local television remains the most trusted mass medium,” said the Stanton Foundation in a statement. “Enhancing its ability to deliver important news is critical to increasing public understanding. Dr. Stanton’s initial research involved audience engagement in the then relatively new medium of radio. Thus it is gratifying that the Foundation has found an avenue for continuing such research.” 

Job description: The Visual Content Producer will work to invigorate local television news stories at WLS-TV/Chicago or WCVB-TV/Boston through the use of animation, motion graphics, and special effects. This one-year fellowship is in conjunction with the Reinventing Local TV News Project at Northeastern University and the Visual Content Producer will also function as a research partner. The VCP is responsible for planning, pitching, and executing both small and large scale concepts in a wide variety of styles using programs such as Autodesk Maya and Adobe After Effects. Both 2D and 3D animation skills are needed as well as proficiency in the Adobe Suite and Autodesk Maya. Candidate should be comfortable working with all areas of video news storytelling, including storyboarding, asset creation, rigging, animating, lighting, and rendering. Knowledge in software such as Substance Painter recommended. The VCP will work largely in an explorative and experimental way, collaborating with the news team to create content that best fits a story’s narrative. These positions will be full-time, salaried roles with benefits; the television stations will make hiring decisions and will employ the producers, who will also serve as industry liaisons to the Northeastern faculty. Email CVs and work samples to: reinventingtvnews@gmail.com

Mike Beaudet is an investigative reporter at WCVB and a Professor of the Practice at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism. John Wihbey is an assistant professor at Northeastern University School of Journalism and the author of “The Social Fact” from MIT Press.

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