Two URI journalism students launch weekly web newscast

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5 Cent Cigar News plays off iconic student newspaper

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 26, 2015 – University of Rhode Island journalism major Marissa Tansino had an idea last year to help make the student newspaper a multimedia information source for the campus and beyond.

The Good 5 Cent Cigar had already been re-invigorated in print and on the web, but Tansino wanted The Cigar to feature strong, interesting and even fun video packages that would complement and expand the paper’s coverage. Once she got the nod from Allison Farrelly, former Cigar editor-in-chief, Tansino could be seen across campus last fall interviewing administrators, students, faculty and staff for a variety of pieces.

But the URI junior from Cranston didn’t stop there. She joined forces with senior journalism major Allie Herrera and the paper’s new editor, Casey Kelly, to launch 5 Cent Cigar News in early March. 5 CCN is a weekly video webcast that features stories about major campus initiatives like the new Academic Health Collaborative and student activities like the Brave the Shave cancer prevention fundraiser. 5 CCN will release its seventh web newscast on Thursday, April 28. Click here to see the latest news package.

“Once I started doing the video packages last semester, I wanted to do more,” said Tansino, who is also a current Cigar staff writer and intern at WJAR/NBC 10 in Cranston. “I couldn’t have started this without the help of fellow journalism student Jeremy Dawson, who worked with me last fall on the video packages.”

After talking with Herrera and Tim Tierney, assistant director of audio visual and production services, about using the campus TV studio in the Chafee Social Science Center, they were off and running, webcasting their first 5 CCN news program March 10.

“The TV studio is primarily for academic uses, but Tim talked to his supervisor and he made it happen,” said Tansino who grew up in Billerica, Mass, and is taking a full course load this semester and working at her family’s Galilee restaurant, the Wheelhouse.

Tansino and Herrera built a crew of anchors, field reporters and videographers for the program. One of their key crewmembers is senior Barrett Jourdan an indispensible, jack-of-all trades who is key at the editing desk.

“The bulk of the students are seniors,” Tansino said. “But now that we have gotten the ball rolling, we hope other students will see our show and want to do it. Casey (Kelly) has been all for this, and has been great about letting us do our own thing. We could not have done it without The Cigar, and we are proud to be a part of the paper.”

Tansino said the shows usually run 10 minutes. The process begins with Tansino writing the entire show Tuesday night. Then the team works in the studio throughout the afternoon and evening on Wednesdays, during which Tansino edits all of the video packages submitted by reporters and footage from the studio. She also provides graphics for the anchors and supers (graphics with sources’ names and titles) for each individual story.

Tansino called Herrera her rock for her roles in planning the newscasts and developing story lists.

“When I reached out to Allie, I knew I found the right person when she said she had nothing going on,” said Tansino as she and Herrera broke into laughter.

“I couldn’t be happier with The Cigar and what we are doing with the broadcast,” Herrera said. “Marissa saw something, and wasn’t satisfied with the status quo. I am drawn to people who lack sleep, want to do more, and Marissa was doing that.”

Despite the demands of being a college student with many out-of-class activities, Herrera said 5 CCN is fun. She singled out a piece she did on the recent Brave the Shave event, as students, faculty and staff lined up to have their heads shaved and donate money to fight cancer. During her broadcast, Herrera grabbed the clippers and shaved the head of a willing student.

“It was one of the most fun stories I have ever done,” said Herrera, who has interned at TV stations in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island, has been an intern at Rhode Island Monthly and is now a journalism teaching assistant. “One of the things I have learned is that to tell a good story, you have to become part of it. The other great thing is I have learned so much about URI, things I never knew before. The relationships you develop are the best parts of being a reporter.”

The native of Peru who now lives in Greenwich, Conn. also had strong praise for her partner Tansino, saying, “She is a good reporter who has made a lasting impression on me as a friend and a journalist.”

Tansino has proven her mettle as a broadcast journalist since she began the video packages last fall. As about 200 people, including several reporters and photographers from the media crowded into the recent kickoff the Academic Health Collaborative, Tansino made sure she had the right shots and interviews, as she did on-camera spots with E. Paul Larrat, dean of the College of Pharmacy, Magali Angeloni, Rhode Island Department of Health Academic Center, director and Lauren Mancini, senior nursing student.

“Other reporters have noticed our chemistry,” Tansino said about her partnership with Herrera. “One said it’s like you are the same person.”

Pictured above: Marissa Tansino, left, a URI junior journalism major from Cranston, and Allie Herrera, a senior journalism major from Greenwich, Conn., take a moment from producing their new weekly webcast, 5 Cent Cigar News, to talk about launching the program. URI photo by Nora Lewis.