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More students get live news experience through ‘WVU News’ and ‘Mountaineer Playbook’ offshoot

students on the set of a news station

Teaching Professor Gina Martino Dahlia has led the award-winning “WVU News” team since 2002 and began experimenting with a new sports production program called “Mountaineer Playbook” in 2015. With the hire of ESPN veteran Chuck Scatterday, “Mountaineer Playbook” is now officially part of curriculum at the West Virginia University Reed College of Media, providing yet another real-world reporting experience for students.

Taught by Shott Teaching Assistant Professor Scatterday, who serves as the show’s executive producer, “Mountaineer Playbook” is the capstone course for the College’s new Sports and Adventure Media major. The student-produced show focuses on sports video reporting and production and includes in-the-field reporting, in-the-studio camera operations, live directing and producing to cover all 17 Division I athletic teams at WVU.

“I'm excited to help develop innovative content and instruction and to teach undergraduate students in sports and adventure media,” said Scatterday. “My goal is to help manage students in a real-world experience outside of the classroom and to help them produce content to entertain people on every ‘Mountaineer Playbook’ show.”

newscast for Mountaineer playbook - students standing around a news desk in a newsroom

“Mountaineer Playbook” has a working relationship with ESPNU, as well as a partnership with WVU Athletics and the Big 12 Conference, including Big 12 Now on ESPN+, allowing students to work on other live sporting events too. Through an agreement between the City of Morgantown and the College of Media, Morgantown residents can watch “Mountaineer Playbook” on Comcast Channel 15 and 1084 on Mondays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Students in both “Mountaineer Playbook” and “WVU News” spend the first few weeks of the semester learning show foundations before auditioning for their roles, which they maintain for the semester, said Journalism program chair Gina Dahlia. “WVU News” reporters cover events on the University campus and in the Morgantown community. Students report, write, shoot and edit television news stories for the program. They also serve as on-air anchors, producers, directors and technical crew during newscast tapings at WVU’s professional television studio.

two women standing in front of a "WVU News" sign

For the first time in the 25-plus year history of “WVU News,” there is an all-female sports team. Eden Douglas of Charleston, West Virginia, and Kierstin Lindkvist of Severn, Maryland, are the anchors.

“WVU News” is part of the Advanced Television Reporting and Producing course taught by Dahlia, who serves as the program’s executive producer. The national Emmy award-winning newscast typically airs statewide on West Virginia Public Broadcasting as part of “Campus Connection,” but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Dahlia and her students to do things a little differently. For the third semester in a row, students are instead producing a 30-minute special edition show that will air statewide at the end of the spring term.

Produced at the onset of the pandemic in April 2020, the first special edition newscast, “Far Apart Together,” was awarded the MarCom Gold Award in the Video/Audio TV Broadcast/Cable Category. Since 2015, “WVU News” has received more than 100 national, international and regional juried awards. “WVU News” was a national Emmy top-three finalist in 2017 and 2012 and received an Emmy first place national win in 2015.

Past episodes of “WVU News” and “Mountaineer Playbook” can be viewed at mediacollegenewscast.wvu.edu and mediacollegenewscast.wvu.edu/mountaineer-playbook, respectively.