Independent News for the Community
For three Beloit students, the year 2020 was a whirlwind news cycle between COVID, racial protests, and a presidential election; information was flying everywhere, and not all of it accurate and accessible. The result in the Beloit community is “Beloit Citizen Media”, the brainchild of Eric Schilling’23, Sam Peters’23, and Harry Priester’23.
The concept for BCM came from Schilling, who noticed during the summer of 2020 that local news is often in the background, and even under-appreciated at times. His experience filming Beloit City Council meetings led him to understand the importance of local government, so he reached out to Priester and Peters to take action. Thus began the pre-production phase of BCM. The show is based in BeloitTV, the local public access station operated by the college, but only in regards to space and necessary equipment. While the crew uses the BeloitTV cameras, lighting, studio, and control room, they are not featured on the station and instead aired their first episode on an independent Youtube channel.
Leading the crew is Schilling, who serves as manager and producer. He is in charge of communicating with whomever needed to get that week’s episode out. This includes coordinating with Jonathon Kelly, BeloitTV’s station manager, scheduling shoots with the crew, and possibly interacting with Beloit City Council.
The face of the operation is Priester, who uses his theatrical experience to anchor the show. In episode one, which aired on Nov. 9, he made his debut in a bucket hat and a kitten sweatshirt. Priester’s job is to be the voice that delivers accessible information. Priester believes this show is important because “Local government is rarely paid attention to by most people, but it affects us directly, and having an easier way to digest sometimes very boring city council meetings makes the likelihood of someone caring about it much higher.”
Peters brings it all together with his newly acquired graphic design skills. Prior to BCM, he had never used Adobe After Effects, but taught himself to use it to build motion graphics. Every graphic and all the editing is done by Peters. From episode one, you’d never know that he’d had very little video editing skills, the quality rivals even the advanced broadcasting students.
Behind the camera is a whole host of their friends operating cameras, floor directing, and writing for the teleprompter. None of whom are involved in the media or journalism departments. This crew has come together over the course of this semester with no journalistic experience, solely for the purpose of bettering the community.