Two Fresno State media, communications and journalism (MCJ) department professors are publishing a new book scheduled for a fall 2021 release.
“Broadcast News in the Digital Age: A Guide to Storytelling, Producing, and Performing Online and on TV,” to be published by Routledge Books and written by professors Faith Sidlow and Kim Stephens, aims to provide students a breath of fresh air to broadcast news.
“It’s basically a guide to teach students what they need to know in order to create news stories, video news stories, or to perform or to produce newscasts,” Sidlow said during a Zoom interview.
Sidlow was an anchor for KSEE 24 from 1985 to 2013, and Stephens has co-hosted “Great Day” on Fox 26 since 2003.
According to Sidlow, their new book differs from the current literature available to students, as most college textbooks appear to be more theory-based.
Based on her own experience, Sidlow acknowledges that most students do not read class-based textbooks and is hopeful that her students will appreciate the straight-to-the-point approach that this book will offer.
The book will contain updated information and resources gathered from those currently working within newsrooms, Stephens said.
“We want to just cut through all of that excess,” Sidlow said. She wants students to be able to use their book as a “step-by-step” guide on how to cover stories.
With a combined total of roughly 60 years as industry professionals, Sidlow and Stephens managed to implement experiences cultivated from other industry professionals in their book, citing information and experiences from journalists across the country.
“They’re also hearing from mentors who are currently doing the job all around the country, in every aspect of the newsroom from assignment editors to producers, digital producers, anchors, reporters and photographers, everybody in between,” Stephens said.
Sidlow and Stephens price their new book on the lower end of an exorbitant spectrum. While a set price tag has yet to be revealed, Stephens mentioned the book should cost students below $45.
Sidlow is currently on sabbatical and Stephens is teaching media performance, TV/multimedia news reporting and production and independent study. Although it is not decided yet, Stephens said that their new book will likely be used for the MCJ 124 intermediate broadcast news writing class.
This book will not only aid students in the class setting but its usefulness will transition to a professional newsroom setting, Stephens said.
While the pair certainly possesses a wealth of knowledge, the opportunity to write a textbook of their own came in passing and ultimately became, as they expressed it, “kismet.”
Sidlow was initially asked by Routledge Books to peer review a book that pertained to broadcast journalism. Then, her editor asked if she was working on any projects.
“My colleague Kim and I have been talking about writing a book, we are in the process of researching it,” Sidlow said to her editor who then requested a proposal.
“I didn’t even understand what a proposal entailed,” Sidlow said.
After submitting the proposal, along with two chapters, the rest was history.
Sidlow and Stephens share an equal amount of friendship, trust and respect for each other.
“We really didn’t get to know each other well, until we started teaching together,” Sidlow said.
“I keep saying yin and yang, right, but it’s so true. She is just, I mean, I can’t put it into words. She is everything I’m not.”
MCJ broadcast student and President of Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Tony Salazar, an in-coming junior, is just as eager to get his hands on the new book.
Salazar loves that both professors are working together on this particular endeavor, and that notion alone makes him want to read the book even more.
“Both of them are amazing people. Very nice. And they both give out really good advice,” Salazar said. “Hence why I’m really excited to just get to be able to read their book.”
Although Salazar has worked with Stephens indirectly via Fresno State Focus, he is excited to take her classes soon. He appreciates Stephens’ hands-on experience and looks forward to receiving her guidance as a student.
Salazar met Sidlow during Dog Days in the fall of 2018, where Sidlow welcomed him with open arms and made him feel at home. At that moment, Salazar realized pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism was the right choice for him.
“I don’t know how to explain Faith because she’s just an amazing person,” Salazar said. “She’s always been really good about emailing me back and about staying in touch with me.”