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SOCJ Students Create Light in Dark Times

Two students bundled up in winter clothes stand in front of a third holding a camera with balloons from the Macy's Day Parade blown up on the ground next to them

Two students bundled up in winter clothes stand in front of a third holding a camera with balloons from the Macy's Day Parade blown up on the ground next to themStudents from the Stony Brook School of Communication and Journalism (SoCJ) will do everything they can on December 1 to spread the joy and light of the holiday season to end what for many has been a difficult and dark year.

The annual Holiday Spectacular will return for a third year, bigger and brighter than ever. The show, produced by the SoCJ’s Stony Brook Media Group, will be broadcast live starting at 4 pm on the SoCJ’s YouTube channel. Watch the show here. 

“These live shows are an incredible test of our students’ abilities to communicate with each other and coordinate hundreds of moving parts all at once, and help them build skills that help them launch and advance in their careers,” said Laura Lindenfeld, dean of the SoCJ and executive director of the Alda Center for Communicating Science. “This show is also a much-needed moment of joy and brightness for our campus community during a stressful time.”

The live broadcast will bounce between students in the school’s on-campus production studio and student reporters in the field at holiday events in Port Jefferson and Smithtown. There will be stories about what the end-of-year holidays mean to people of different faiths and how food pantries help communities after the feasts of Thanksgiving. Students will cover New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. A journalism major studying abroad in Spain will offer a look at the holidays in Madrid, and the on-campus team will romp through some of the Hallmark Channel’s seasonal offerings set overseas.

“This has been a really draining semester mentally and emotionally so this show is supposed to be a moment of light for the semester,” said Tim Giorlando, a senior mass communication major from Levittown, New York, who is producing the show. “I’ve done a lot of multimedia and a lot of writing but I haven’t done a lot of the more technical stuff like broadcasting. I always thought the Holiday Spectacular was fun and this is the last chance I’ll have to really learn this side of things before I go out on the job market.”

Under Giorlando’s leadership, the team of about a dozen students has spent the past month or more deciding on stories, dividing up the work, coordinating schedules and planning the entire show. They’ve thought of every detail, from selecting camera equipment to timing how long it takes to walk from one part of the studio set to another.

“I’m so proud of all the hard work these students have put in,” said Phil Altiere, the school’s production supervisor. “Live shows are complicated productions when literally every second counts, and our students are pulling out all the stops, telling stories here on campus, in our immediate community, in NYC and all the way across the Atlantic. It’s an ambitious show and it’s just going to be spectacular.”

For the first time, students got behind the scenes access to the Thanksgiving Day parade balloon blow-up and from the starting line of the parade, thanks to Joe Ryder, a 2016 SBU journalism graduate who now works in the public information office of the New York City Police Department.

“I really wanted to do the Thanksgiving Day Parade for my last show with the Media Group,” said Sydney Riddle, a journalism major who is graduating this month. “I’ve been working with this team for a few years now, and it has made my college career. It’s shown me that I’m more creative than I thought I was and what I enjoy about journalism.”

“I love the Holiday Spectacular because it’s live and there are so many moving parts. It’s also one of our happier shows and we all need that right now.”

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