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Doris O’Donnell FellowshipHensley visits campus,works with studentsThis profile first appeared on Point Park University’s websiteCMI helps businessleaders remain on airBy Andrew ConteDoris O’Donnell winner Erica Hensley visits campus to work on fellowshipproect, meet with environmental studies and journalism students.What did receiving the DorisO’Donnell Innovations in InvestigativeJournalism Fellowship from the Center forMedia Innovation at Point Park Universitymean to you and the work you do?I can’t overstate how important it hasbeen. Mississippi Today is a non-profitfully digital state-wide newsroom that’scompletely free to readers, so we are reallyshaking up the traditional news model. Butwith that, we have to rely on diverserevenue streams. We don’t havesubscriptions or circulation, so we arefunded through fellowships, grants anddonors. As the only fully staffed newsroomcovering the whole state, the deep-divestories we tell would likely go untoldwithout our reporting.Tell us about your project.Lots of data! My project is a great exampleof stories that would otherwise go untold.I’m looking at lead exposure across thestate and identifying pockets of risk.Because Mississippi is a bit of “data desert”with regard to some public health problems,there isn’t comprehensive dataabout where children are most susceptibleto lead. To combat that, I’m extractingdata where I can, overlapping datasets andidentifying that risk myself. Lead exposureusually happens three ways: water, paint orsoil/dust. I’m tracking all three exposuresand layering the information to map riskpockets.What was it like spending a week at PointPark University in January?It was great! The CMI is such a beautifulspace and powerful resource for students,reporters and just the city itself, really. I’mhonestly a little jealous for younger Erica,wishing I had had a resource like this incollege. It’s great to see studentsembracing true multimedia storytellingthrough multiple platforms. It’s the onlyway news media will survive as we knowit. I was trained, not very long ago, to thinkof news in silos: “print,” “broadcast,” and alittle bit of “online.” Those lines are blurredmore than ever and students need to notonly be comfortable in all three, but needto be able to merge them for digitalstorytelling. It’s great to see a place foryoung journalists that embraces that.As part of your fellowship, you had theopportunity to work with our students inclass with Professors Matthew Opdyke,Ph.D., and Bill Moushey, M.S. What weresome of your key messages to theenvironmental studies and journalismclasses?The message I really try to impart is thatevery story is a health or environmentstory. Even if you don’t see the immediatePhoto by Emma Federkeilhealth and medical ramifications – there islikely a long-term health impact. Also, to justbe comfortable asking “why?” on a deeperlevel and looking toward solutions. Whatare the social determinants of this situation?What powers that be stand to benefit fromkeeping the status quo and who’s working onchanging it? It’s not enough anymore to justpoint to the problems – there are too many. Ithink it’s beholden on journalists to focus onanswers, where possible, and explore what’sworking as well.What was it like working with ourstudents?I hope they’ve gleaned something from it.It can be hard to gauge impact on students,but if after I leave they have one more dataskill in their reporting toolbox, or can think alittle more creatively about how to collect andvisualize data, then I’ll be happy.Screenshots and graphic by Nick RuffoloWe have been making televisionprograms in our pajamas.Not really. But we could have been.When the pandemic started, the CMIcollaborated to produce a Sunday morningtalk show with WPXI-TV, Pittsburgh’s NBCaffiliate, and the Allegheny Conference onCommunity Development.The producers of Our Region’s Businesscould no longer go into the studio, so westarted recording the show remotely viavideo chat. The relationship lasted throughJune.The first four shows weren’t perfect, butthey all ran on broadcast television inHD-quality.Before the crisis, TV producers were right toinsist on studio quality for every show. Butas we all have learned, good content rightnow means more than anything.If you’re wondering how to make yourselfmore camera-ready, here are some tips onhow to look your best during a remote videointerview.1. Face a light source such as a window.2. Create a quiet space.3. Place camera at eye level.4. Wear plain colors and avoid patterns.28 295. Smile!