Rucker's work goes beyond updating infection rates and health advisories. Even though she’s working mostly from home, she’s still finding inspiring stories to share and, hopefully, helping her audience feel connected.
Reporting Live…From Home
TXST alum is bridging the distance with inspiring stories in COVID-19 news coverage.
Journalist and Texas State alum Hannah Rucker has been telling the story of COVID-19 in Central Texas as a reporter/anchor for Austin’s KVUE News. She took a few minutes to speak to us about how she and other journalists are adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 reporting, the opportunities it creates to bond with her audience, and the power of sharing stories of resilience in a time of uncertainty.
Beyond the essentials of reporting important health and safety information, what kinds of stories are you interested in telling during this crisis?
“This virus is truly impacting every walk of life, and I've been interviewing a wide range of people who are facing daily obstacles because of it. Just a few days ago I spoke with a family of three nurses who are living out of a hotel because they don't want to potentially expose the rest of their family members. They're exhausted and using their savings to keep the room booked.
“A few days before that, I spoke with a woman who has been feeling sick for over a week and is struggling to get coronavirus testing done. She was scared she was going to lose her job because of it. Tears fell down her cheeks as she was Facetiming me from a Walmart parking lot.
“Storytelling feels different right now; in this dire situation I just want to keep shedding a light on these different human experiences. A lot of people feel like they've run out of hope.”
How are you and your co-workers balancing the need to protect yourselves with the demands of your job?
“I feel lucky that KVUE was ahead of the pack and had us start working remotely about a month ago. I have friends that work at different stations in other states and are still having to interview people in person.
“I solely do interviews on Zoom or Facetime, which yes, feels quite different than my usual chasing people down with a microphone. On the weekends, I go into the station to anchor the morning shows with a skeleton crew. I'm quickly in and out, and back home.”
Does reporting and broadcasting from home create a different rapport with your audience, many of whom are also homebound or working from home, perhaps for the first time?
“I think it does; it's almost reminding the viewers that people who work in television are just everyday people. Typically, a newscast strives to be this slick, glamorous production with as little hiccups as possible. But now, there's technical difficulties, with dogs and children running in the background. It feels good to just let go and understand this is the best we can do right now.”
How did your Texas State experience help prepare you for meeting professional challenges like this?
“My time at Texas State was truly a dream and where my vision for broadcast really took flight. I'm just so incredibly happy to be back in Central Texas being able to cover the San Marcos area, where this journey began.
“I remember typing up scripts in Old Main in Dr. England's class. I was always so nervous and overcome with adrenaline before Bobcat Update every week. I just love my school so much. I recently saw a story about how Texas State was donating some ventilators to local hospitals, and it made me proud to be a Bobcat.”
“My time at Texas State was truly a dream and where my vision for broadcast really took flight. I'm just so incredibly happy to be back in Central Texas being able to cover the San Marcos area, where this journey began.”
Are you finding bright spots about how people in Central Texas are coping during this extremely stressful and confusing time?
“It's incredible to see the way these communities are working so hard to make sure we're helping local restaurants and businesses stay afloat during this trying time. It brings tears to my eyes knowing how many people have sore hands from sewing medical masks right now, to make sure our medical workers stay safe. There's something special about Central Texas, there's a lot of heart here.” ⭑
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