Hawaiʻi’s next generation of journalists is getting real world experience in disaster preparedness. The new initiative launched, by the School of Communications in the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa College of Social Sciences aims to help students learn how to deal with a crisis situation in a safe classroom environment.

Journalism capstone students recently participated in an interactive mock tsunami crisis exercise designed to hone their reporting and investigative skills.

This new approach takes simulation to a whole new level. Student journalists are tasked to respond to a mock emergency and present a broadcast breaking news report under-pressure and on deadline.

Students film 30-second breaking news segment.
students lined up with cameras and lights ready
Journalism students prepare for mock press conference.

“In these kind of times, when news tends to be so fast moving and fluid, we’re trying to give our students a different type of preparation. It’s that kind of preparation they’ll need if they’re going to be at the frontline in the case of disasters, or other kinds of news breaking events of our time,” said Denise Eby Konan, dean of the College of Social Sciences.

Simulation challenges student journalists in crisis situation

Students were divided into groups of four—each representing a major news outlet.

Students were challenged to see which station could create the most informative and compelling breaking news block.

“Professional journalists know how to spring into action and what to do once they’re in action. It was very challenging, but it was very fun at the same time,” said Dillon Ancheta, a journalism student in the School of Communications and a tsumani crisis exercise participant.

But what they learned from the experience was even more rewarding.

“I think it was one of the most valuable aspects to my collegiate learning experience,” added Ancheta.

With this kind of prep, the College of Social Sciences hopes young journalists will graduate ready for the real world.

“The public can be assured that the students coming out of our program, are going to be well prepared to be those leaders in the field of journalism,” said Konan.

For more information, read the College of Social Sciences news release.

Best news block team

UH Mānoa juniors Dillon Ancheta and Victoria Cuba, along with seniors Arthel Lizada and Kristen Wong, won the competition for best news block.

—By Lisa Shirota