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Students Cover Area Sporting Events on New Website

Posted Oct. 25, 2011

By Anne Dudley
Portage Trail CentralNate Edwards, general manager of TV2 KSU and Jon Jankowski, sports executive producer recently created Portage Trail Central (PTC), a website that covers 16 high school football teams in Portage County. The site has been live since the first Friday of the season.

About 20 students on the sports team create previews during the week, provide highlights from each game, do voiceovers of the video, edit, and upload it to the web. The crew also provides a game of the week highlighting the best game. Teams of two or three students attend each game and prepare highlight reels as early as Friday evening.

PTC is additional way for TV2 to reach out to the community, as their broadcasts reach homes in Portage County. PTC highlights have also already been used by local stations such as Channel 5 news.

The idea came to Nathan Edwards, TV2 General Manager after filing a live broadcast of the Kent Rough Riders vs. Ravenna Ravens football game. According to Edwards, the game generated a significant amount of advertising and interest from the community.

Edwards said this event helped him see a need that could be filled by JMC students. “JMC has a ton of students interested in sports reporting and the reality is, when they get out of college, they will likely be covering high school sports.”

Edwards said the site is a great way for students to get involved in the TV2 sports team as early as freshman year, and about half of the students currently participating are first year students. It is a learning process for those that are new and returning TV2.

In the initial stages of planning the site, Edwards looked at what similar sports sites lacked, which was quality highlights.

“We thought about what the site would look like, what type of content would be on it and the basic feel the site would have,” he said.

Edwards was only a little anxious about finding enough students to staff games on Friday nights during football season.

“I supported the idea because this is an opportunity [the students] are not going to get throughout the rest of the week,” Edwards remarked.

Working on this site is a new responsibility of the sports executive producer position, which Jankowski holds. This position also supports Sports Corner on TV2 and directs coverage of Kent State sports.

Jankowski said his experience interning a WMFV in Reading, PA this summer prepared him for PTC. “I was a sports intern there. They covered high school and minor league sports. I learned how to interact with high school teams and coaches.”

“I think for anyone who wants to be a sports reporter [PTC] teaches you everything you need to know to be a after you graduate,” Jankowski said.

Jankowski finds the interaction with teams and coaches and the practical skills for sports reporting valuable aspects of PTC.

Edwards called the content thus far “professional and crisp” and pointed out that although the site has only been live since the first Friday of the season, the group of TV2 students have produced more highlights overall than the station has in the past several years.

Edwards’ goal is not to have the site be stagnant for eight months until the next football season. He hopes to be able to cover some of the men’s basketball, baseball and softball games in the conference’s next two seasons.

“We’ll have a consistent sports model, but the techniques for shooting other sports are different,” Edward explained.

“This is a good opportunity [for the students]. To me it’s not about the money or how many people view the site. This is a different element for broadcast journalism majors, which is something TV2 is known to do,” Edwards added.

Jasen Sokol, a first year master’s student in broadcast journalism, said, “I’ve found working on the site to be very useful. Especially after not having experience in broadcasting to be able to get involved starting the first week of classes was great.”

“Working with Jon has been great. He’s been able to give us pointers on what we’re doing and how we can do better. It’s nice to have a knowledgeable resource to help younger kids.”

Jason Kostura, sophomore broadcast journalism student, said, “[PTC] is valuable for my education because I’m actually doing something I will use in my career… I’ve been in TV2 since I was a freshman and have done nothing as hands on as this.”

“When you look at ESPN and local networks, this is the kind of stuff you see,” Kostura said.

“We are providing the news to local companies. It is not like we are re-reporting the new we’ve received; we are becoming a source for local stations.”

To visit the site, go to: http://www.portagetrailcentral.com.