Author: Chris Morales

News 12 anchor gives advice to the “Hunter News Now” students

Jessica Cunnington watching an HNN student demo along with the class.

Jumping from the nation’s 183rd television news market to the number one market in just one year is pretty much unheard of, but not impossible if you’re Jessica Cunnington, now a News 12 anchor and reporter. Cunnington talked about that meteoric rise from her entry level reporting job in Charlottesville, Virginia to New York’s News 12 with Professor Sissel McCarthy’s “Hunter News Now” students last Wednesday. After Cunnington graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University in 2012, her goal was to be working as a reporter within six months somewhere on the East coast. It didn’t take that long. By August 2012, she landed a job as a what’s known as an MMJ (multimedia journalist) for CBS19 in Charlottesville. There, she learned to report, write, shoot and edit all her own stories and within a year, she had the experience and show reel to make a big jump back to her hometown market, New York City.

Jessica Cunnington watching.

 Cunnington shared her reporting and anchoring expertise while watching the second Hunter News Now show of the semester and praised students for their storytelling. “The techniques you’re learning here will really help you in when you get your first job,” Cunnington said. “My approach is to let the people you interview do the talking. Reporters don’t need to talk as much as you think.” Some of her more practical tips include: think about adding nat sound at the beginning and throughout your story, always use a tripod, shoot your interviewees on the tight side, usually from the collarbone and up unless you need to show something else in the shot, avoid too much head room, use dissolves to smooth out the audio and smile when you’re anchoring. She also said everyone gets better with practice and that’s why that first job in a triple-digit small news market is invaluable.

Group photo with Jessica Cunnington and the HNN students.

Hunter librarian Tony Doyle guides Sissel McCarthy’s students on the library’s research tools

Hunter College librarian Tony Doyle teaching Sissel McCarthy's Reporting and Writing 2 students on research tools from the library.

Hunter College librarian Tony Doyle met with Professor Sissel McCarthy’s MEDPL 202 Reporting and Writing 2 students on Feb. 28 to take them through all the research tools and resources available to them at their fingertips.
The students are working on their first assignment and looking for data and statistics to add credibility to their stories. Some of their ideas include the anxiety epidemic among Gen Z students, the congestion pricing proposal to reduce traffic in Manhattan, the popularity of K-Pop and inclusivity in the cosmetic products. 
Doyle told students the top three databases are ProQuest, EBSCO, and Nexis Uni, with Nexis Uni being the most difficult but best one to use for their purposes. “A sophisticated topic deserves a sophisticated search,” said Doyle as he shared his pro-tips with students.
Among them: 

  • Limit your search terms to a single word or short phrase
  • Start with a general word and then go for more specific terms
  • Narrow down those results by going to the keyword list and clicking on the word or phrase you want to see in the first 100 words the article
  • If you’re looking for statistics, add “numbers or statistics or data” to your search terms
  • Look at the most recent stories by adjusting the date slider 

CNN’s Great Big Story Producer Shares Tips with Hunter News Now Team

CNN's Great Big Story producer teaching students from the Hunter News Now team how to handle a camera.

Great Big Story photojournalist Jonathan O’Beirne loves telling stories with camera, and by all measures he’s gotten pretty good at it with some of his stories viewed more than 10 million times. CNN launched the global media company Great Big Story in 2015 to tell stories that transcend borders. O’Beirne joined the team nearly three years ago and attributes his success to a few simples rules that he shared with Professor Sissel McCarthy’s Studio News Production students.

His top tip is to always monitor your audio. “Sound is more critical than video, and people cannot tolerate poor sound,” O’Beirne says. He even showed students how to set the audio on channel 1 to manual and channel 2 to auto in case something goes wrong on channel 1– an insurance policy that has saved him many times. 

O’Beirne has a mental checklist that he goes through for every scene he’s shooting. First, do a manual white balance and then shoot a sequence: wide, medium, tight and then six other shots from different angles and perspectives, all held for at least 25 seconds so you have handles, the extra footage before and after a clip’s in-point and out-point.

He also urged students to use their tripods for every shot. “That’s the difference between an amateur and a professional,” says O’Beirne, adding that he’s not a huge fan of zooming, and that it’s always better to walk your camera closer to a shot. Same thing for panning—let what you’re shooting walk into the frame.

Group photo with O'Beirne and the Studio News Production class.