Communication graduate Alyssa Wilson ’18 was recently recognized as part of the Boston 25 News team that won a National Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Social Media for its coverage of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions that occurred in the fall of 2018. Wilson edited and produced two of the videos that contributed to this award.
A former executive producer for Hawk TV News and promotions director for the student-run station, Wilson credits Monmouth for giving her lessons on professionalism, passion, and dedication that shaped her current career. “My time at Monmouth put me in all the right places to get the job I have and be the person I am today,” said Wilson. In particular, Wilson expressed gratitude for communication professors Rob Scott, Donna Dolphin, Marina Vujnovic, Ph.D., and Eleanor Novek, Ph.D.
Now working as a digital video optimization specialist for Boston 25 News, Wilson’s responsibilities include curating and distributing videos for all digital platforms, researching and implementing effective digital video strategies, optimizing content for the correct digital platform, repurposing stories into short, “snackable” videos, and more. Since starting at Boston 25 News, Wilson has created profiles for the organization on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, and has helped to grow the Instagram audience by more than 56% in her first year.
On the day of the gas explosions last fall, Wilson remembers the work day starting just like any other. While reporters were out on assignment and the digital team was preparing to turn scripts into web stories, the assignment desk editor announced a potential “breaker.”
“There were reports of fires and explosions in several towns in the Merrimack Valley,” said Wilson. While the team usually doesn’t pursue a story until it’s confirmed, Wilson explained, she immediately logged into Twitter to monitor Sky 25, the news helicopter, which was reporting back videos of the fires. “Since my job calls for a search of user-generated content, I began messaging people asking if we could use their content on air and online and I turned those videos around for our website and social media.”
As Sky 25 arrived at the scene, the team could see smoke and fire shooting out of several buildings and homes. “The scene was honestly devastating, but we didn’t have time to sit and ponder on what was happening. We had to do our jobs and report the news,” Wilson said. While her team started a live blog, Wilson poured over hours of footage to find high quality videos and images that would help Boston 25 News capture the full story.
“[The] day after the initial explosions, there was still so much footage to go through and so many videos to correct. [Plus], when I create videos I have to optimize them for the correct platforms. That means the same video must be edited three or four different ways and then disseminated in a timely fashion with the appropriate captions,” Wilson explained. “It can be a lot at times, but once I’m in the zone, I’m unstoppable.”
Her hard work paid off. Last month, Boston 25 News was honored with a National Murrow Award, and Wilson said the recognition was empowering. “I was always wondering if I deserved a seat at the table,” she said in reference to being a recent college graduate working in a Top 10 market. “After working extremely hard and pouring myself into the Merrimack Valley coverage, I felt good. Having the videos I produced featured in the submission that won first a regional, then a national Murrow solidified my seat at the table.”
So what’s next for Wilson? “My career goals moving forward are to work in the area of digital and social media,” she said. Wilson is also interested in becoming a digital and social media consultant for news brands and companies. “I think it’s important for brands to know how to leverage their presence on all social platforms and have a digital presence that is accurate to their brand.”